In November, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer promised that a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would pass by the end of 2017. The DACA program, which was terminated by Trump this fall, provides legal protections for 800,000 undocumented young people, also known as DREAMers, who were brought to Americans as children. Already, more than a hundred DACA recipients are losing their protected status every day. But things will get even worse beginning in March.
“We feel very strongly that DACA must pass and pass by Dec. 31… We think we’re going to have a good number of Republican colleagues join us,” Schumer said.
The government was scheduled to run out of operating funds on December 21. A continuing resolution was introduced by Republicans to keep the government operating through January 19.
These funding bills required 60 votes to pass. That means that Republicans, who currently hold 51 Senate seats, need significant Democratic support to advance legislation. In December, 16 Senate Democrats supported the Republican spending bill that did not include a DACA fix, ensuring its passage.
Over the weekend, Trump told reporters that there would be no deal on the (DACA) program next week unless Republicans received the necessary funding — at least $18 billion — to build his border wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico.
“We want the wall,” he said. “The wall is going to happen, or we’re not going to have DACA. We all want DACA to happen, but we also want great security for our country.”
This week, ThinkProgress contacted every member of the Senate Democratic caucus (which includes two independents) to ask whether they would withhold their votes from any spending bill that would not include a DACA fix. Only six were willing to publicly make that commitment.
Sen. Kamala Harris (CA)
Are we the kind of country that targets young people who were brought here as kids – people who are American in every way but on paper? I believe we aren’t, but time is running out for us to prove it. Congress must act to pass the Dream Act now.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) January 6, 2018
Harris, who voted against the most recent continuing resolution, stated in December that she would “not vote for an end-of-year spending bill until we are clear about what we are going to do to protect and take care of our DACA young people in this country.”
On Tuesday, a spokesperson told ThinkProgress that the California senator’s views had not changed since then.
“Sen. Harris first announced in late October [last year that] she wouldn’t back any end-of-year spending bill unless DACA was addressed,” they wrote in an email. “The same is true regarding the Jan 19th bill.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 8, 2018
When contacted for comment, a spokesperson from Wyden’s office directed ThinkProgress to an earlier statement issued on December 21, indicating that he would vote against any legislation that did not include a clean DACA fix.
“Every day, more than 11,000 DACA recipients in Oregon and hundreds of thousands across the country face the very real danger of being ripped from their families and communities,” Wyden said at the time. “I cannot support an end-of-year deal that fails to include protections for these young Americans to stay in the only country they know as their home: the United States.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL)
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) December 21, 2017
Although a spokesperson for Duckworth would not explicitly say whether or not the Illinois senator would vote no on January 19, they did point ThinkProgress to an earlier statement in December, in which Duckworth insisted she could not vote for a spending bill that did not address the DREAM Act.
“It’s… unacceptable that my Republican colleagues are voting to go home for the holidays while leaving countless Dreamers at risk of being deported from the only country they have ever known,” she stated then. “Enough is enough.”
Duckworth also tweeted on December 21 that she could not “vote for a CR [continuing resolution] that enables Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to continue playing political games with #Dreamers’ lives by failing to pass a clean, bipartisan #DreamAct.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA)
I voted no tonight on a CR that does not include the #DreamActNow. Congress shouldn’t leave town to celebrate the holidays with our families while 800k Dreamers fear being ripped apart from their families & deported to a country they barely know. We must keep our promise. pic.twitter.com/wgG5Y2AuPo
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 22, 2017
A spokesperson from Warren’s office this week told ThinkProgress that the Massachusetts senator was prepared to vote no on the January 19 spending bill if it did not include permanent protections for DREAMers.
“Senator Warren has already made it clear she will not vote on a spending bill without a clean Dream Act,” they said.
Warren has frequently tweeted about the issue, writing on January 5,
Dreamers aren’t bargaining chips. They aren’t pawns in @realDonaldTrump’s game. We made a promise. We said come out of the shadows & be fully woven into the fabric of America because that’s who you are. In America, we work hard & dream big & we must keep our promise to Dreamers.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT)
I could not in good conscience support a short-term funding extension that lacks protections for #Dreamers. Congressional Republicans have sentenced 700,000+ young people to another holiday spent wondering if it will be their last in the country they call home.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) December 22, 2017
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal is firm in his decision not to vote for any spending legislation that doesn’t include DACA protections, a spokesperson told ThinkProgress on Tuesday.
“I could not in good conscience support a short-term funding extension that lacks protections for #Dreamers. Congressional Republicans have sentenced 700,000+ young people to another holiday spent wondering if it will be their last in the country they call home,” Blumenthal tweeted in December. “Sen. McConnell said ‘we have plenty of time’ to address DACA. I dare him to look into the eyes of a Dreamer — who goes to sleep every night filled with anxiety about their future — and deliver that cruel message.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Because the president revoked DACA, some 800,000 young people are living in extraordinary anxiety about whether or not they're going to lose legal status and be subject to deportation. We have got to deal with that decision.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 8, 2018
A spokesperson told ThinkProgress on Monday that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — an Independent — would not vote for any bill that lacked a clean DACA fix.
In a statement on January 5, Sanders explained,
…We must immediately pass legislation protecting the Dreamers. …Without the legal protections afforded by the DACA program, these young people live in constant fear of being deported. …Any new spending agreement must include the passage of a clean Dream Act which must be signed into law as part of the budget negotiations. This is not a radical idea. It’s what the American people want.
In a statement the following day, he added, “I am not sure why President Trump wants to shut down the government over a multi-billion dollar wall that no one wants, is not needed and will not be paid for by Mexico. What the American people do want, in overwhelming numbers, is to provide legal protection to 800,000 Dreamers and a path toward citizenship for them.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
Voted NO on the short-term gov't funding bill because it doesn’t protect 9 million children’s health care or #DREAMers. I won’t be party to leaving these urgent obligations unmet.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 22, 2017
In an email on Tuesday evening, a representative from Merkley’s office stated that the Oregon senator’s previous position on the issue “still stands”, and that he would not vote for any bill that did not include a DACA fix.
Following his December 21 stopgap vote, Merkley tweeted, “Voted NO on the short-term gov’t funding bill because it doesn’t protect 9 million children’s health care or #DREAMers. I won’t be party to leaving these urgent obligations unmet.”
Spokespersons for several other Democratic senators said they would issue statements on the subject to ThinkProgress soon.
This article will be updated as more statements are released.