GOP chairman blames Democrats for defense budget holdup

Greg Nash

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) on Tuesday blamed Democrat lawmakers for failing to pass a defense budget in favor of “political games.”

Thornberry insinuated Democrats are not interesting in crafting a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Instead, he said, they are looking to use a potential DACA deal and the threat of a government shutdown as leverage.

“I am increasingly concerned, for example, on the DACA deal, that some people may not want to resolve the issue,” Thornberry told reporters in Washington.

“They may rather have the issue out there because they think it’s to their political advantage … they still say expressly they’re not going to vote for military funding until DACA is resolved, but they may not want to resolve DACA because they’re getting political benefit out of it.”

Thornberry’s comments follow those of President Trump, who said Sunday on Twitter that DACA is “probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”

Trump announced last year that he would rescind the Obama-era program — which protects nearly 800,000 young immigrants, commonly referred to as Dreamers, from deportation — but provided Congress with six months to craft a legislative fix for DACA recipients.

A deal has yet to be reached between lawmakers and the White House.

It’s expected lawmakers will vote on another short-term spending measure that will last until sometime in February, after they passed a continuing resolution (CR) in December.

Thornberry is hoping for a long-term spending measure, arguing that short-term spending agreements hurt the military, but expects there will be another CR to allow for more negotiations.

“There are Democrats who know that many of us are concerned about the damage a CR does every day, they are trying to use our concerns about the military to promote their issues and trying to take advantage of that. The political games seem to have no end,” he lamented.

In addition to a possible shutdown, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will go into place if Congress can’t reach a deal to raise budget caps.

Thornberry has been critical of CRs in the past, arguing they damage the military’s readiness and delay maintenance, but he voted for another stopgap measure last December.

“I think today there could be an agreement reached on a caps deal. Frankly I think it’s not that hard to get a DACA deal, but the question is, do they want to?” Thornberry said, referring to Democratic lawmakers.

Though undecided on his vote this time around, he said he would “do just about anything to fix” the defense budget issue, “including vote for things that I might not support otherwise.”

“We’ll see how the week goes.”

Tags Donald Trump Mac Thornberry

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