Mass House Democrat Defections Likely On Omnibus Without DACA Commitment

‘We believe this is a very, very critical issue to be resolved,’ Hoyer says

House Minority Whip Steny  H.Hoyer, D-Md., suggested Democrats may oppose the omnibus without a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Dozens of House Democrats are likely to vote against the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill if the final deal, which leaders hope to announce Wednesday afternoon, does not include a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

House Democrats have been frustrated for months by Republicans’ refusal to allow a floor vote on legislation to protect so called-Dreamers — DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. They’ve voted against several stopgap spending bills because of congressional inaction to provide a permanent replacement for DACA, which President Donald Trump tried to end effective March 5 but federal court rulings have kept alive.

More than half of the Democratic Caucus voted against the most recent continuing resolution, which is set to expire midnight Friday, that carried a budget deal setting topline spending levels for fiscal 2018 and 2019, among other things, because DACA remained unresolved. 

“Certainly we’re in a similar situation, yes,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Wednesday of the omnibus. 

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While Hoyer made clear that the caucus has not yet determined whether it will support the omnibus — and will not do so until it is finalized and released — he also noted the growing frustration he and many members are feeling in response to congressional inaction on DACA. 

“We believe this is a very, very critical issue to be resolved,” he said. “None of us want to shut down government.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi briefed the caucus Wednesday morning on some aspects of the omnibus that appropriators and leaders had agreed to before she went off to meet with Speaker Paul D. Ryan and their Senate counterparts to negotiate unresolved issues. 

Pelosi emerged from the leadership meeting predicting the deal they were working to finalize would be something that Democrats could “comfortably support.” She declined to provide specifics. 

During the caucus meeting, members had expressed their concerns about voting for an omnibus without a path forward on DACA. 

“For a lot of us ... we need some kind of commitment on immigration, to do something meaningful,” Rep. Dan Kildee said. “It’s pretty difficult to keep hearing, ‘We’re going to take this up, we’re going to take this up,’ and we never do.”

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While it's still unclear if Republicans have yielded any ground to Democrats  on the DACA issues, aides have confirmed that Democrats have agreed to border security funds Republicans were seeking. 

Specifically, the omnibus will include $1.57 billion for fencing and new technologies to secure the southern border. The language is consistent with the border security measures authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said. 

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