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 and her opponents voice confidence over Speakership battle Clyburn says some critics are using race to oppose his leadership bid New hurdle arises in Pelosi’s march to Speakership 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 TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa 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 PelosiPelosi and her opponents voice confidence over Speakership battle House Dems split on how to tackle climate change Overnight Energy: House Dems at odds over how to handle climate change | Trump shows support to California over wildfires | Zinke calls fires worse than Iraq war zones 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 DurbinTrump throws support behind criminal justice bill Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Criminal justice reform faces a make-or-break moment MORE (D-Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis Bill to protect Mueller blocked in Senate McConnell: Mueller probe should be allowed to finish 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.”
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.”