Sen. Cornyn rules out DACA fix, setting up government shutdown fight

Republicans need Democratic votes in the Senate in order to pass the spending bill. Without a DACA fix, they may not get them.

Immigrant advocates protested outside the White House on September 5, 2017, in opposition of President Donald Trump's decision to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. CREDIT: Esther Y. Lee
Immigrant advocates protested outside the White House on September 5, 2017, in opposition of President Donald Trump's decision to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. CREDIT: Esther Y. Lee

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) says there is “no way” that a must-pass spending bill will include a deal to protect immigrants brought to the country as children, something for which Democrats have been fighting, setting up the possibility of an imminent government shutdown.

The Senate GOP Whip on Monday specified to reporters that Congress’ short-term spending bill will not make permanent protections available for so-called unauthorized DREAMers, according to The Hill’s Alex Bolton. Cornyn said he would “be happy to” address DACA before the omnibus, but Congress has until midnight on December 8 to pass a spending bill or risk shutting down the government.

In early September, President Donald Trump rolled back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, an Obama era program granting temporary work authorization and deportation relief in two-year increments. Recipients whose DACA statuses expire before March 5, 2018 were told to renew their work authorization cards for one final two-year increment by early October. Many did, but recipients whose DACA statuses expire beginning on March 6, 2018 could be subject to deportation and job loss. After Trump rescinded the program, he called on Congress to provide a permanent fix for the DREAMers, giving lawmakers six months to find a solution.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell recently said it would be “ridiculous” to have a standoff fight with Democrats over the immigration issue and risk shutting down the government.

“There’s not going to be a government shutdown,” McConnell told ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “It’s just not going to happen.”

“I don’t think that Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address anytime between now and March,” McConnell added. “That’s a very untenable position.”

As Reuters previously reported, McConnell and other Republican lawmakers have argued that Congress has until March to provide a fix for DACA recipients. Republicans control the House and Senate, but need Democratic help to gain enough votes to pass a funding bill that would prevent the federal government from shutting down. Democrats have said they will not help pass the spending bill unless provisions are in place to pass the DREAM Act, which grants eventual citizenship for nearly two million immigrants who came to the country as children.

Waiting until March to pass legislation for DREAMers could have big implications for both immigrants and the U.S. economy. A report by FWD.us and the Center for American Progress (CAP) on the consequences of a DACA repeal found that it would result in “enormous job losses and far-reaching economic consequences”, as well as an average of 30,000 recipients losing their jobs each month. (ThinkProgress is an editorially-independent website housed within CAP.)

Nearly 700,000 DACA recipients have the potential to generate more than $460 billion in gross domestic product over the next decade. Job loss among DACA recipients, the report found, would “dramatically increase” beginning March 6, culminating in a firing every 13 seconds by the third quarter of 2018.