With a bipartisan immigration deal looking increasingly unlikely after President Donald Trump’s “shithole countries” remark last week, Republicans aiming to avert a government shutdown are desperately pitting “kids against Dreamers” by using a crucial health insurance program for children to “lure” Democrats into backing a short-term spending bill that doesn’t include a DACA fix.
“Ryan’s bill is a test—let’s just hope that the Democrats pass.”
—Clio Chang, Splinter News
A new Republican stop-gap spending measure, unveiled by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday, would keep the government running for just under a month and extend funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—which covers around nine million children—for six years.
It would not, however, include a solution for the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants facing the possibility of deportation due to Trump’s decision to end DACA last September.
If a spending measure isn’t passed by 12:01am on Saturday, the government will shut down.
The GOP ploy could leave Democrats in “a difficult political decision,” the New York Times notes. Either they “withhold their votes unless the plight of such immigrants, known as Dreamers, is addressed and risk a government shutdown, or vote to keep the government open and fund” CHIP.
Analysts were quick to warn Democrats not to fall for what they characterized as an attempt to hold CHIP “hostage” for political gain.
Clio Chang of Splinter News highlighted the fact that the “Congressional Budget Office recently found that extending [CHIP] for ten years would actually save the government money, yet Ryan is still only willing to give children a 6-year extension.”
“If the program was brought to a vote in a separate bill, it would pass in a second, which is why Ryan is trying to use it as leverage, knowing that some Democrats might be averse to voting against CHIP. But that’s exactly what they should do,” Chang concludes. “Ryan’s bill is a test—let’s just hope that the Democrats pass.”
So far, House Democrats appear to be heeding progressives’ demands.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged Democrats to vote against any spending measure that doesn’t include a DACA fix.