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Senate progressives threaten to oppose government funding bill over DACA fight

Senate progressives threaten to oppose government funding bill over DACA fight
© Camille Fine

A growing number of lawmakers from the Senate's progressive wing are warning they will oppose a December government funding bill without a deal on a key Obama-era immigration program. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Live coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Miami Herald endorses Gillum for governor MORE (I-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBig Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches Sanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE (D-N.J.) are the latest senators to link the two issues, foreshadowing the likely end-of-the-year showdown lawmakers will face.

"Trump must make good on his promise to sign a bill protecting Dreamers. I won't vote for any spending bill without a permanent DACA fix," Sanders said in a tweet on Friday. 

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A spokeswoman for Booker said the New Jersey Democrat would also oppose the funding bill if it doesn't include a fix for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Booker said on Friday that Trump is throwing "the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of dreamers into chaos and uncertainty."

"I want solutions to protect these kids, and won’t vote for a spending bill that doesn’t include one. It’s an issue of basic decency and morality," he said. 

Trump announced in September that he would phase out the program, which allows undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children — commonly referred to as "Dreamers" — to work and go to school without the fear of deportation.

Unless Congress passes legislation by early March, the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients would be at risk of being deported.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBig Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches Sanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Sanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children MORE (D-Calif.) became the first Senate Democrat to warn she wouldn't support a December government funding bill without an agreement providing protections for the young immigrants.

“I will not vote for an end-of-year spending bill until we are clear about what we are going to do to protect and take care of our DACA young people in this country,” she said during a rally on Capitol Hill last week.

On Thursday, Trump and Senate Republicans agreed during a closed-door meeting to oppose including an immigration deal in the December funding bill.

Hours after the meeting, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBig Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches DNA is irrelevant — Elizabeth Warren is simply not Cherokee The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis MORE (D-Mass.) followed Harris's lead by drawing a similar red line.

"Do your job, Mr. President. Stop playing politics [and] fix this," she said in a tweet, asserting that Trump is "willing to abandon Dreamers after all."

The Democratic senators, who are both considered possible contenders for the party's 2020 White House nomination, don't have the ability to sink the government funding bill on their own.

But Republicans will need to win over at least eight Democrats if they want to be able to overcome the Senate's 60-vote procedural hurdle.

Lawmakers are facing a Dec. 8 deadline to reach a funding deal and avoid a government shutdown.