- Many Democrats are furious with members of their party for agreeing to a deal with Republican senators to reopen the government.
- These Democrats don’t think Republicans will fulfil their promise to vote on legislation to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program, set to expire on March 5.
- “Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat to allow people in my community to live in our country legally,” Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Monday.
Many Democrats are incensed about the deal Senate Democrats reached with Republicans on Monday, the third day of a shutdown, to reopen the government.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of senators – including 33 Democrats – led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reached an agreement to fund the government until February 8.
The senators agreed to the deal in exchange for a promise from the GOP to vote on legislation to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation about 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers and is set to expire on March 5.
But many Democratic lawmakers and activists, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris of California, denounced the deal, arguing that Democrats couldn’t trust Republican leaders to fulfil their promises on immigration, the issue at the heart of the disagreement between the parties.
Harris, a likely 2020 presidential candidate who voted against the deal, said McConnell’s promise on DACA “fell far short of the ironclad guarantee” she needed “to support a stopgap spending bill.”
“I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word,” she said. “I will do everything in my power to continue to protect Dreamers from deportation.”
Several Senate Democrats who supported the agreement are facing competitive reelection battles in 2018 in states that President Donald Trump carried in 2016. Others, including Virginia’s senators, represent large numbers of federal employees, thousands of whom were furloughed on Monday amid the shutdown.
Meanwhile, Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand, other possible 2020 presidential contenders, voted against ending debate on the bill, which the Senate eventually passed. The House is expected to vote on it on Monday evening.
Pelosi also broke with Schumer, saying she wouldn’t support any deal until House Speaker Paul Ryan promised to bring DACA legislation to the floor.
“I don’t see that there’s any reason – I’m speaking personally and hearing from my members – to support what was put forth,” Pelosi said during a Monday press conference.
Progressive groups, including labour unions and civil-rights advocacy groups, simultaneously pressured Democrats to reject the compromise and stand united against the GOP.
“Mitch McConnell’s empty promises are not to be believed,” Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told McClatchy.
“The progressive movement is unified,” Gupta said, adding that she felt “intensely strongly that Democrats must continue to stand strong now.”
Some Democrats voiced particularly strong dissent after news of the senators’ deal. Alida Garcia, a strategist and advocate for immigrants’ rights at the lobbying group FWD.us, announced she would cut ties with the party.
“They’re complicit w/ every single young person living in fear,” she said. “Every pain Latino & immigrant families feel from here out is 100% due to @TheDemocrats not fully embracing us as American. Implicit racism is equally as harmful. I’m done.”
Other Latinos voiced similar concern that the Democratic establishment was abandoning immigrant communities.
“This shows me that when it comes to immigrants, Latinos, and their families, Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat to allow people in my community to live in our country legally,” Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said in a statement, according to a Washington Post reporter.
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