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 DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks 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. 

“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 HoyerOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Liberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar 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 TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE.

“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 rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster Hickenlooper announces Senate bid Trump orders elimination of student loan debt for thousands of disabled veterans 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.