Dems won’t hold omnibus hostage over Dreamers

Dems won’t hold omnibus hostage over Dreamers
© Greg Nash

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks MORE (Ill.) said Thursday that he does not expect Democrats will insist on attaching immigration reform to the fiscal year 2018 spending omnibus, lowering the odds of another government shutdown.

Durbin said Congress is looking forward to finally passing the spending package, which comes nearly six months into the fiscal year, after weeks of acrimonious disagreement over spending levels, immigration, and a variety of conservative policy riders. 

A stopgap spending measure is due to expire on March 23, but Democrats don’t have much appetite for using it as leverage to help an estimated 800,000 immigrants who came to the country illegally as children and now face deportation. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“We have to look for another opportunity,” Durbin said Thursday.

He said lawmakers are tired over the budget stalemate, which has put federal agencies in limbo for months. 

“I think we’re kind of focused on finally getting the budget of this country passed,” he said.

Durbin's remarks come after Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats postpone vote on marijuana decriminalization bill Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE (D-Md.) signaled Tuesday that Democrats wouldn't demand Dreamer protections as a condition for passing the spending deal.

Durbin blamed the lack of momentum behind an immigration fix to help Dreamers on President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There’s no indication that President Trump wants to do anything and absent his support Republicans don’t want to do anything and they’re in the majority,” he said.

Durbin opposed a stopgap spending measure in December because it did not include language to protect young immigrants from deportation and later said he would not support spending bills that failed to address their plight.

Most of the Senate Democratic caucus rallied behind that position, leading to a standoff and a three-day government shutdown in January.

Durbin and other Democrats voted to reopen the government after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt MORE (R-Ky.) promised to debate immigration on the Senate floor in February and allow for an open amendment process.

That debate, however, failed to produce a result as a bipartisan proposal to create a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants in exchange for $25 billion in new border security funding fell six votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

A proposal favored by Trump to give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship, spend $25 billion on border security, reduce the weighting of family relationships in granting green cards and eliminate the visa lottery was soundly defeated. Sixty senators voted against that proposal.