A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday joined congressional Democrats in saying he won’t support government funding at the end of the year without a resolution for young undocumented immigrants, adding heat to already tense negotiations.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo has long been pushing for a permanent version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump has decided to end, but Tuesday was the first time he committed to withhold a vote for funding in search of a deal.
“I’m announcing today that I will not support any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 31 unless we get this DACA issue resolved,” Curbelo said at a panel on immigration reform in Florida held by the pro-immigrant business group IMPAC Fund and the University of Miami.
Curbelo had stopped short of the threat just before leaving for Thanksgiving recess. Tuesday’s move puts him in the same camp as a growing number of Democrats, who have said they would not support any funding bill without a solution on DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.
Trump ended the program, which protects nearly 700,000 people, in September but allowed a window for permit renewals to give Congress time to act. The two-year permits will begin to expire in March.
Government funding runs out December 8, though a short-term extension is a possibility. Still, the threat of a government shutdown has increased as the end of the year draws nearer.
While Democratic leadership has not threatened to reject a government spending deal without DACA, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t expect Democrats will go home for Christmas without a DACA resolution.
She and her Senate counterpart, Chuck Schumer, were scheduled to meet with Trump and Republican leadership on year-end issues Tuesday but pulled out of the meeting after Trump tweeted that he didn’t “see a deal” ahead of the meeting.
Curbelo said he has no requirements about what the deal might entail, other than a reasonable compromise, and said he would be supportive of either combining it with spending or a standalone bill, but that it would have to be done by the end of the year.
Republican leadership has been disinclined to combine the two efforts and has pointed to the March deadline set by Trump for permits to begin expiring. Republican senators said after meeting with Trump earlier this month that they had ruled out putting DACA on a funding bill.
“I don’t think it’s going to be resolved in the context of the year-end omnibus, I think it’s going to be handled separately,” Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CNN in the Capitol on Monday, but he didn’t say whether they could be accomplished at the same time.
“We’re not there yet. We’re still talking,” he said.
Curbelo also said during the event that the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is near completion on its proposal for a compromise.
“What we’ve essentially done is taken the (Recognizing America’s Children Act, which Curbelo authored) and the Dream Act and married them and then taken some border security components and put them into a bill. That’s almost ready to go,” Curbelo said.
His bill has 35 co-sponsors in the House, all but one of which are Republicans. It has a Senate companion, as well.
Democratic Florida Reps. Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch were also on the panel and supported Curbelo’s position on funding.