Finance

McConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging Democrats to support a short-term funding bill needed to prevent a government shutdown despite an increasingly heated fight over immigration. 

"With no imminent deadline on immigration and with bipartisan talks well under way, there's no reason why Congress should hold government funding hostage over the issue of illegal immigration," McConnell said during his floor remarks on Tuesday. 

His plea comes as Congress has to pass a continuing resolution (CR) by the end of Friday in order to prevent a shutdown of the Republican-controlled government.

McConnell argued that Democrats should support the CR because there are "serious bipartisan conversations" under way and Congress has until at least March to pass a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

"Now that a federal judge has issued a nationwide injunction preventing the administration from winding down the Obama administration's DACA program, it is clear that Congress has at least until March at a minimum, and possibly even longer, to reach a compromise," he said. 

Lawmakers from both side, as well as the Trump administration, have downplayed the impact of a ruling last week that requires the administration to keep DACA on the books while litigation plays out. The Justice Department is appealing the ruling, it announced Tuesday

Congress is facing its fourth deadline to prevent a shutdown in recent months as negotiators have struggled to reach a deal on DACA or raising the budget caps. 

Eighteen Senate Democrats, plus Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), supported the December CR. But Democratic leadership has been coy about if their members will help put up the votes this week. 

McConnell will need nine of them to support this week's CR, if he can hold his entire caucus together. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who voted for last month's CR, declined to say on Tuesday how he'll vote this time if there isn't a DACA deal included.

Meanwhile, centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he would vote for the stopgap bill. 

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