Democrats’ insistence on an immediate immigration amnesty for potentially millions of young illegal aliens may shut down the federal government at midnight tonight for the first time in the Trump era.
The House vote to fund the government whose funds run out later today, came as the Trump administration sent out confusing mixed messages about its commitment to build a wall on the nation’s southern border and about the constitutionally dubious Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that Trump said in September he planned to end. At that time Trump gave Congress six months to put some kind of a legislative fix in place. At a recent televised meeting with lawmakers at the White House Trump seemed to soften his position on DACA and border security but yesterday on Twitter he reaffirmed his previous hardline positions.
Democrats want any funding legislation passed by Congress to provide legal certainty for the illegal aliens they intend to count on as future voters. Protecting DACA recipients is so important to the Left that Democrats have to “refuse to offer any votes for Republican spending bills that do not offer a fix for Dreamers and instead appropriate funds to deport them,” stated a secret strategy memo dated Jan. 8 revealed a few days ago. The document was co-authored by Center for American Progress Action Fund President Jennifer Palmieri and Executive Director Navin Nayak. Both worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Palmieri was Clinton’s communications director; Nayak was her director of opinion research.
There are around 700,000 DACA-eligible individuals who came as young people to the the U.S. but they are a small subset of perhaps around 4 million or so so-called DREAMers, many of whom failed to apply for relief under DACA but could conceivably qualify under the kind of amnesty Democrats want.
DREAMers are the stuff of leftist myth. The expression comes from the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a legislative proposal to grant underage illegals immigration amnesty. The conceit was invented to promote the illegal immigration Democrats need to win elections. Contrary to what the word implies, DREAMers tend to be less educated and less established than typical Americans.
At 7:36 last night, the House of Representatives voted 230 to 197 to approve H.R. 195, which provides stopgap funding for the government through Feb. 18. President Trump supports the measure. There have already been three continuing resolutions (CRs) this federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The current CR expires at the end of Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor that Democrats want to fund the government instead of “kicking the can down the road,” but his comments are at odds with most Democrats who have taken the hardline position that young illegal aliens must be dealt with in the spending legislation now under discussion.
Senate Republicans are divided on the spending measure and on DACA and the DREAMers. It is unclear if they will come together and vote to keep the government open for business.
The House vote came after the House Freedom Caucus, which had been withholding support for H.R. 195, embraced it after receiving assurances from Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) office that there would be separate votes in coming days related to national security-related issues.
"Our major ask in all of this has been that we break this cycle that has held our military hostage," said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
“Leaders also committed to ‘work aggressively’ to whip an immigration bill authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and to bring conservative immigration legislation to the House floor in the coming weeks,” The Hill newspaper reports.
The vote also came after House members agreed to fund the Clinton-era Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which used to be called the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). The program provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The big government money vortex was, of course, backed by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and came as a kind of bipartisan consolation prize for left-wingers in the wake of the Clintons’ failed health care takeover.
“CHIP covers about 9 million children whose parents usually earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health coverage -- typically no more than $62,000 for a family of four,” according to a CNN summary. “The 20-year-old program cost about $15.6 billion in fiscal 2016, funded almost entirely by the federal government.”
Funding for the program lapsed in the fall. The stopgap spending bill the House approved yesterday extends funding for CHIP through 2023, according to Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.).
But apparently five years of CHIP funding wasn’t enough for the increasingly incoherent Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“This is like giving you a bowl of doggie doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae,” she said, waxing scatological. “This is nothing.”
The House vote also came as President Trump pushed back against his own White House chief of staff, John Kelly, a retired four-star general who unexpectedly contradicted him during a meeting with Democrat lawmakers.
Kelly reportedly told Democrats that some of the campaign promises Trump made about immigration, including constructing a wall on the southern border, were "uninformed." Kelly also said Mexico will not “directly” pay for the wall.
Trump has “changed his attitude toward the DACA issue and even the wall," Kelly said. The president “has evolved in the way he's looked at things. Campaigns and governing are two different things."
Trump disagrees and is reportedly angry with Kelly for stirring the pot.
In a series of tweets Thursday morning, the president reaffirmed his policy positions, writing:
The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water.....
....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!
We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country. We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!
Meanwhile, the Trump administration yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to bypass the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and directly take up its appeal of a leftist San Francisco-based judge’s bizarre ruling ordering the administration to continue taking renewal applications under DACA from status-holders who failed to meet an October deadline.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, found Jan. 9 that Attorney General Jeff Sessions' belief the program was unlawful seems to be "based on a flawed legal premise." It is unclear what that premise may be because no sane constitutional scholar believes a president is not allowed to revoke an executive action taken by a previous president.
DACA is a brazen Democrat power grab, a usurpation of Congress’ constitutionally prescribed role in making laws. Before President Obama created DACA in 2012 with the stroke of a pen, he acknowledged such a program would be unconstitutional. “I am not king,” Obama said in 2010, adding the next year that with "respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case."
Federal lawyers say they can’t wait for the oft-reversed Ninth Circuit to hear the case because that would take months and would “require the government to retain in place a discretionary policy that sanctions the ongoing violation of federal law by more than half a million people.”