Democrats on Thursday acknowledged that they had all but been defeated on efforts to pass an immigration fix and other priorities by the end of the year, with a short-term funding bill on track for passage.
Liberal lawmakers had said they would not support leaving for the year without their wish list of priorities, including action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but have run out of time.
The GOP-controlled Congress is set to pass a spending bill keeping the government open through mid-January, and then likely adjourn for the year.
Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating on a permanent fix for DACA, a program President Donald Trump has decided to end that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. Those negotiations will continue over the holiday break, likely by phone, according to a source familiar.
In a show of force and frustration on Thursday afternoon, a group of roughly 17 Congressional Hispanic Caucus members marched from the House side of the Capitol to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office flanked by members of the press corps, to urge him to hold the line on DACA and other Democratic priorities, including funding for children’s health insurance, budget caps on domestic spending and support for veterans.
After roughly an hourlong meeting, the members came out claiming success in having done all they could do and gotten a commitment from Schumer — but acknowledged that the commitment was only about increasing the show of force.
“Basically, Leader Schumer promised he’d urge the majority of senators to vote no, as many as possible, and if we can’t get it done now, we will lay it all on the line on the 19th, when we come back in January, based upon the caps,” said Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Florida.
Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said Schumer committed “to clearly move and grow the number of senators” who would stand firm on priorities. But when asked if the number was “more than 14,” as opposed to all 48, by a member of the press, Grisham acknowledged: “That’s what we’re saying.”
“We are clear about moving the needle. And with that needle, if we end up being able to fill the tank and get what we need right now, before the holidays, we are all in,” the New Mexico Democrat said. “We will cross each bridge and each issue as they occur.”
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told CNN that while some Democrats will oppose the Senate bill, which doesn’t include their priorities, that doesn’t mean all 48 Democrats in the Senate — at least eight of whom are likely to face tough re-election fights next year — will vote against the funding.
“There’s a pretty good showing in there of no votes, for a lot of reasons,” Durbin said of his caucus.