Pelosi threatens to oppose budget deal without immigration

Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned on Wednesday that she would oppose an emerging budget deal without a commitment to consider legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants as part of a five-hour floor speech that was still taking place after 2 p.m.

Leaders of both parties in the Senate are trying to clinch a deal to raise budget caps and allow Congress to enact long-term spending legislation. Such a deal would likely need support from House Democrats, given the expected conservative defections.
But Pelosi made clear that House Democrats won’t hand over their votes without some concessions.
She’s looking for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to make a similar commitment as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up immigration legislation before offering her support.
“This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect ‘Dreamers’ in the House. Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan, comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi noted in the unusually lengthy House floor speech that the lack of a commitment on an immigration vote would mean “a large number of members of our caucus” would not support the budget deal, either. Her remarks lasted longer than typical presidential State of the Union addresses.
Pelosi suggested that Ryan could allow votes on a variety of bipartisan immigration proposals, such as a bill by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) that would allow recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to apply for permanent residency and would enhance border security with technology and barriers where needed.
The House has occasionally used a process for legislation that allows votes on multiple competing proposals and whichever gets the most votes wins. That procedure, known as a “queen of the hill” rule, was most recently used in 2015 to determine which budget proposal would be adopted by the House.
At the same time, Pelosi noted that the budget agreement “includes many Democratic priorities,” including disaster aid, opioid funding and parity for defense and nondefense spending.
As part of the deal to end the three-day government shutdown last month, McConnell said that he would bring up immigration legislation after Feb. 8. But Ryan would not make any similar promise that whatever passed in the Senate would be considered by the House.
The Trump administration is phasing out the DACA program, which allows qualifying young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work and go to school. The roughly 700,000 DACA recipients are in limbo as lawmakers struggle to negotiate legislation that would allow them to stay in exchange for enhanced border security.
President Trump has proposed providing a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, often referred to as “Dreamers,” which would go beyond the DACA population. But Trump also wants to attach measures to restrict legal immigration, which Democrats oppose.
Pelosi is in a tough spot as she seeks to balance demands from liberal activists insisting Democrats hold the line on protecting Dreamers and still find a way for Congress to enact a budget deal in time to avoid another shutdown.
Pelosi on Wednesday called on Ryan to allow a vote on immigration legislation.
“Let the House work its will,” Pelosi said. “Why should the House of Representatives be constrained?”
Ryan’s office pointed to past remarks by the Speaker saying that the House intends to take up an immigration bill.
“Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill – one that the president supports,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
Current government funding expires after Thursday.
The House passed a short-term spending patch — the fifth since September — on Tuesday that would last through March 23 but enact full-year funding for the Defense Department.
The House-passed bill is expected to fail in the Senate, given Democrats’ demands for parity between defense and non-defense spending. Senators are likely to strip out the full-year defense funding, potentially attach the budget deal, and send it back to the House for approval. 
Updated: 3:12 p.m. 
Tags DACA Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan Pete Aguilar Will Hurd
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