Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix

Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix
© Greg Nash
House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi: Discharge petition won't promote Trump's wall The Hill's 12:30 Report Two Democrats on the fence over immigration discharge petition MORE (D-Md.) suggested Tuesday that House Democrats won’t support another spending bill that excludes protections for Dreamers.
“I think it needs to be in the CR,” Hoyer said, referring to the continuing resolution Congress is poised to consider this week.
Hoyer emphasized that Democrats haven’t seen Republicans’ proposal for a spending patch to keep the government running beyond Friday — and won’t make a final decision until they do. 
But asked moments later if Democrats would support a CR without the immigration language — even if negotiators have reached an agreement “in principle” to do the immigration piece separately — Hoyer indicated such a strategy wouldn’t fly with his party.
“One of the reasons for that is that we had a meeting at the White House in which everybody agreed we were going to protect the Dreamers,” he said.
Democratic opposition to the CR would greatly heighten the pressure on House GOP leaders to rally the votes to pass a spending bill before Friday, when government funding is set to expire. The short-term bill — the fourth since September — is needed because the sides have yet to reach an agreement to increase discretionary spending caps in the face of looming cuts to defense and non-defense programs. 
Republican leaders, however, are opposed to addressing the immigration issue as part of any spending bill. President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo to outline post-deal strategy on Iran Trump asking aides whether he should proceed with North Korea summit: report Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all MORE, in dismantling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative fix, and GOP leaders have shown little urgency to move a bill long before that deadline. 
GOP leaders won enough Republican support in December to pass a pair of CRs without Democratic support, but it’s unclear if they can win enough GOP votes this time around. Not only do they face resistance from deficit hawks in the party, but the Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee have also balked at the notion of funding the Pentagon, repeatedly, on a short-term basis.
The Republican conference will meet in the Capitol basement Tuesday evening to discuss their strategy moving forward. Democrats, meanwhile, are making their own demands heading into the debate.
“If we protect the Dreamers in the CR, and we memorialize the agreement on caps in the CR, I think Democrats will surely vote for the CR,” Hoyer said, adding that Democrats will also be urging funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and emergency disaster relief, among other top priorities.
Complicating the debate for the Democrats, there’s plenty of disagreement over what a DACA fix should look like. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiJuan Williams: Trump gives life to the left Tax law supporters rally for Republicans in tough races Democrats must vote for electable candidates to win big in November MORE (D-Calif.) has made it clear that she sees the best chance for a deal in the ongoing bipartisan negotiations being led by Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThis week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem lawmaker spars with own party over prison reform MORE (D-Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Trump will 'end North Korea’s threat to the American homeland' in his first term Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting Kim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays MORE (R-S.C.). 
Yet Hoyer on Tuesday joined another member of Pelosi’s leadership team — caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) — in voicing opposition to the Durbin–Graham framework over provisions to reduce family migration and curb diversity visas. 
“I have not been fully apprised of the deal, but I will tell you this: I am not for, at this point in time, dealing with either family reunification or diversity [visas],” Hoyer said. “I think both are based upon racial perspectives, I think are highly objectionable to large numbers of our caucus — correctly so."
“In any event, [they] are items to be discussed in the terms of comprehensive immigration reform,” he added. “The first phase is protecting the Dreamers.”
Hoyer has been involved in a separate track of discussions involving the deputy leaders from both parties and both chambers, a group that also includes Durbin and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Finance: House panel to take up bill toughening review of foreign deals | Trump acknowledges Cohen payment on disclosure form | Officials set for new round of China trade talks Groups urge Senate panel to reject Trump's pick for Louisiana-based appeals court House panel will consider bill to boost foreign investment review powers next week MORE (R-Texas), Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions The Hill's 12:30 Report House rejects farm bill as conservatives revolt MORE (R-Calif.) and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE.
Pelosi, unbidden, took a shot at the group last week, highlighting its lack of ethnic or gender diversity. 
“‘The five white guys,’ I call them,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I said, ‘Are you going to open a hamburger stand next or what?’” — a reference to the popular Five Guys hamburger chain. 
Hoyer responded that Pelosi’s remarks were “offensive.” 
Trump has been another impediment to a DACA deal. Last week the president panned the emerging Durbin–Graham agreement, siding with conservative hard-liners who contend it’s too soft on enforcement. Trump also upended the debate by reportedly disparaging some nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting last week with lawmakers at the White House.
The remarks drew an outcry from critics of both parties, particularly minority Democrats who have long accused the president of advancing white nationalist sentiments.
Hoyer sided with the sharpest of those critics on Tuesday, deeming Trump a racist.
“I’m saying what he does is racist,” he said. “Now, if what you do is racist, you certainly qualify for being a racist.”