Trump seeks Democrats' help on year-end budget, DACA deal

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

The temporary funding measure will also include a short-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which helps cover working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. States have been left in the lurch when CHIP expired Oct. 1 at the start of the new fiscal year.

Democrats have a long priority list for negotiations, but at the top is the push for a solution for the 700,000 Dreamers.

Trump once sided with Pelosi and Schumer on this, but has since shifted his views. Leading Democrats have warned that without a bill to help Dreamers they would withhold their votes on the government funding bills, essentially threatening a shutdown.

Arguments for the immigrants were boosted Monday when the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business organization largely aligned with Republicans, urged Congress to find a solution by year's end or risk workplace disruptions as Dreamers are deported.

"We are passionate about this issue because it is a matter of principle and fairness," Chamber CEO Tom Donohue said. "The longer Congress waits, the more Dreamers will lose their ability to work here legally and become subject to immediate deportation. This will cause serious disruptions in the business operations of the companies that employ them, which is why many business leaders have spoken out and demanded action on this issue."

Republicans, though, are pushing for an immigration deal that would include border security and reductions in legal immigration. They say the issue can wait until next year because Trump's decision doesn't end the program until March 8.

On Monday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called Democratic threats to shut down the government over Dreamers "a hysterical and cynical ploy." He also said talks to resolve the issue have hit an "impasse."

Other issues are also expected to be wrapped up in the year-end deal, including supplemental disaster aid after the devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes and Western wildfire season. California lawmakers objected because the White House's latest $44 billion disaster funding request failed to include money for wildfire aid.


The budget negotiations are needed because Congress failed to fully fund the government at the start of the fiscal year in October.

A core dispute is the top-line funding level for government operations. Many Republicans want to increase funding for the military, but not for nondefense accounts, while Democrats are pushing for parity.

Without a deal, funding would automatically be reduced to so-called sequester levels -- steep cuts across the board, stemming from a 2011 budget deal -- that only the most fiscally conservative deficit hawks still support.

House and Senate negotiators, who had not met since Democrats backed out of the White House meeting last week, resumed talks on Monday.

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