House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) let it slip to a group of conservatives in the House on Tuesday that he is planning to include a fix for the DACA program in the year-end budget negotiations. Legislation forthcoming will address undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Ryan was asked if he thought the legislation will include a December omnibus spending bill that would cover Cost-Sharing Reductions for Obamacare or some sort of solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He told leaders of the Republican Study Committee that he didn’t believe CSR payments would be a part of the legislative fix, but that DACA would.
“He did talk about the fact that that would be good if we could get ahead of that as opposed to being reactionary,” RSC Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) said Tuesday night.
Walker was then asked if Ryan believed that Republicans didn’t have the votes to address DACA alone, and therefore needed Democratic support. Walker said, “It wasn’t as clear-cut as that ― and it rarely is, actually ― but he did make reference that [DACA provisions] would be something that might be part of the whole ball of wax.”
Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), who is a Republican Steering Committee member, didn’t align wholeheartedly with the idea that DACA would definitely be in the year-end deal, but he agreed that Ryan insinuated that they needed Democratic votes.
“I would have said we were having a discussion about where the year was going, what’s left that’s out there to get done,” Woodall said. “That’s on the list of things to get done, and we just wouldn’t have the votes to do it by itself, so it would have to get combined.”
Walker also noted that border security would be a part of any agreement that included a DACA fix. “He did talk about border security,” Walker said of Ryan. “The language that I’ve used, when we did the poll in the RSC, 83 percent of the RSC members believe that a precursor to any long-term DACA fix is securing the border. Now that could be defined different ways. I didn’t get any impression that Speaker Ryan has moved off of that position.”
But Walker felt that he needed to concede that enhanced border security didn’t necessarily mean “a wall.”
“I don’t think that anybody has said definitively that the wall has to be part of that,” Walker said.
Who knows how this will play out in the next few weeks. When Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) was asked on Tuesday about Ryan including DACA in the year-end spending deal, he said, “he better not.”
“You gotta get rid of DACA. DACA needs to go away,” Yoho said.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) agreed with Yoho saying it would be a “big problem” if Ryan included those immigration provisions in a December omnibus bill.
When President Trump stopped the DACA program, he put his party in a precarious place. The fates of hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people were now in the hands of Congress. The GOP lawmakers had criticized DACA, but now they were responsible for either passing a law or being responsible for so-called Dreamers losing their jobs and being deported.
If Ryan and McConnell try to pass a law on DACA alone, it would be without the support of their party. The only likely way to get it done is by adding DACA provisions to an omnibus bill, but this will still alienate many Republicans. Because some within the party will undoubtedly vote no, the Democrats will have a much stronger negotiating position with the rest of the bill, including Obamacare subsidies. Republicans just don’t have enough votes to pass an omnibus bill in the Senate without at least some Democratic help.
Leverage will be essential in the negotiating process. Trump has even said that if Congress doesn’t act to protect “Dreamers,” he will act from his executive desk…the very place where this all began. So all of this leverage may, in fact, lead to a rare experience these days: compromise.
Democrats have said they’re willing to agree to some border security measures ― not a wall ― in exchange for a DACA deal. If Dreamer measures become part of a larger government spending bill, lawmakers could say they also got immigration enforcement funding as part of the package, and both sides could claim partial victories.
The American public may have the most leverage. According to a recent poll, 86 percent believed Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country.
Where do you stand?
Credit: Huffington Post