Pelosi on delaying DACA fix: January is ‘this year extended’

Pelosi on delaying DACA fix: January is ‘this year extended’
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNews media's sausage-making obsession helps no one Klobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday defended her fellow Democrats for allowing the debate over “Dreamers” to carry into January, saying the delay is no indication that party leaders have abandoned demands that the issue be tackled this year.

Instead, according to Pelosi's argument, the Republicans’ decision to punt the fight over 2018 spending into next month meant the Democrats had to postpone their immigration push, as well.

“They kicked the can for the omnibus into January. It’s this year, extended, that’s what it is. It’s the process,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

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“We’ve never done that before that I remember,” she added. “But nonetheless we’re going to continue the conversation, because it is an emergency.”

It’s unclear if Pelosi and the House Democrats will have any influence over the Republicans’ short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), which GOP leaders are expected to bring to the floor Thursday evening. If GOP leaders can pass the bill solely with Republican votes, the Democrats in the lower chamber will have no sway.

But Senate Democrats, empowered by the filibuster, have leverage to make certain demands. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.), though, appears poised to accept a CR without the immigration language, leading liberal immigrant rights advocates in and out of Congress to accuse the Democrats of caving at the expense of Dreamers.

“Democrats have really not stood up for the Dreamers as they can,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said this week.

At issue is the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative providing certain legal protections to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE rescinded DACA in September, arguing that President Obama lacked the legal authority to create such a program unilaterally. He urged Congress to adopt the same protections legislatively, offering a six-month window for lawmakers to do so.

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) say they want to consider a DACA fix next year, closer to Trump’s March 5 deadline. But liberal Democrats don’t want to wait that long, arguing that more than 120 Dreamers fall out of the program — and lose their legal protections — each day that Congress fails to act.

Liberal Democrats — particularly those in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — were furious in September when Pelosi and Schumer cut a short-term budget deal with Trump that excluded DACA protections. They’ve pressed their leadership to insist on such a provision this month. The leaders have responded by vowing to do just that.

“We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” Pelosi said earlier this month.

At a Rules Committee hearing Thursday morning, Pelosi pressed the Republicans to act on DACA as part of the CR — an effort that failed.

Speaking to reporters shortly afterwards, Pelosi suggested the Jan. 19 funding deadline established by the Republicans’ CR would present the Democrats with the next opportunity to secure the DACA protections.

“Well, over 10,000 already have lost their status, and [Republicans] are saying, ‘Well, we can wait until March,’” Pelosi said. “Well, we can’t.

“As I said to them, that’s an act of cruelty.”