Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloNation's fraught politics leads to fear, scars and exits Direct air capture is a crucial bipartisan climate policy Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead MORE (R-Fla.) said Tuesday he won't vote for any appropriations bill to fund the government past Dec. 31 unless Congress legislates to permanently protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Speaking at an immigration summit hosted by the IMPAC Fund — an immigrant rights organization — Curbelo set his deadline for action on DACA.
“I will make some news here of particular interest to our friends in the fourth estate," he said. "I am announcing today that I will not support any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 31st unless we get this DACA issue resolved."
The Trump administration rescinded DACA in September, giving Congress a March 5 deadline to pass a bill allowing its nearly 690,000 beneficiaries — undocumented immigrants that arrived in the country as children — to stay and work in the United States.
The announcement set off a flurry of legislative activity to find a solution.
A bipartisan bill, the DREAM Act, was filed in the House and Senate, and Curbelo — an outspoken proponent of immigration reform — filed a similar bill, the Recognizing America's Children (RAC) Act.
While Democrats have found an ideological partner on immigration in Curbelo, they've butted heads with him because he hasn't signed on to the DREAM Act.
DACA supporters are counting on House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) to need their votes to pass a spending bill, as he's unlikely to get support from many of the fiscal hawks in the GOP.
Ryan has said he'll stick to the March 5 deadline for a DACA solution and earlier this month said DACA would be separate from any spending bill.
Still, Curbelo has been adamant that he'll support any bill that has a chance of putting DACA protections into law.
“My view is I would support any of these bills. I don’t care which one gets passed. We need to get this done. How it gets done is less important to me," he said.
By adopting the Dec. 31 deadline, Curbelo is strengthening Democrats' leverage on the issue.
Immigration advocates say that after the December spending deadline, Democrats and their Republican allies will lose leverage to pressure leadership to protect so-called Dreamers.
"As Congress faces the challenge of passing two must-pass spending bills in the coming weeks a — short-term Continuing Resolution and an Omnibus spending bill for defense and domestic priorities for the next year — let’s be clear: it’s now or never," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a progressive immigrant rights group.
Curbelo said Tuesday he remained agnostic on which legislative vehicle should carry DACA relief.
“And by the way, it doesn’t have to be included in the spending bill, but it has to get done. Again, as long as it gets done I’m okay with a stand-alone bill, if it’s part of another package, let’s just get it done,” he said.
Curbelo's announcement comes amid renewed hostilities between House Democratic leadership and President Trump regarding, among other things, immigration.
House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor Panic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Progressives push for fossil subsidy repeal in spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) canceled a White House meeting with Trump Tuesday after he tweeted "they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked ... I don’t see a deal!"
Pelosi and Schumer, who were expected to discuss DACA among other issues, instead requested an afternoon meeting with Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (R-Ky.).
"We don’t have any time to waste in addressing the issues that confront us, so we’re going to continue to negotiate with Republican leaders who may be interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement," said Pelosi and Schumer in a statement.
Ryan responded by saying Democrats were looking for "excuses" not to meet with the administration.
"There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there," he said.