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Did Democrats lose their leverage on DACA?

In the end, the calendar won -- and that has some recalculating who will have leverage in January for negotiations on...

Posted: Dec 22, 2017 1:41 PM
Updated: Dec 22, 2017 1:41 PM

In the end, the calendar won -- and that has some recalculating who will have leverage in January for negotiations on immigration.

Congress finished up its business for the year Thursday night and left town without resolving major outstanding issues -- including a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which lawmakers had repeatedly pledged to fix before the end of the year.

Supporters note that more than 100 DACA recipients a day are losing status

Some think GOP will have more leverage as a March deadline approaches

Republicans voted to pass an extension of government funding through mid-January without acting on immigration, health care or disaster spending issues, pushing a showdown into January.

Some DACA advocates worry that by not forcing a government shutdown fight, they gave up leverage for next year.

"I think it's pretty evident that -- how do I say this kindly -- that there was some leverage potentially to do (DACA) this year, I think Nancy (Pelosi) and the Democrats kind of abandoned it," said Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, who has long supported immigration reform. "But I'm still committed to getting it done and I think it will get done."

DACA protected from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. But after President Donald Trump decided to end the program, DACA permits are set to begin expiring in early March. So the closer talks get to that date, it could make Democrats more desperate to secure a fix, and they will have to swallow more concessions -- or at least so some Republicans hope.

"Yeah, I do have concerns about that," Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who's a leading progressive advocate for DACA in the Senate, said about the potential that a deal will get worse for supporters as negotiations slip into the new year.

Supporters also note that despite Trump's plan to have no permits expire before March by offering a renewal window, more than 20,000 DACA recipients were either unable or unwilling to renew, meaning an average of 122 of them are losing their protections every day. Moreover, experts have expressed concern that any replacement program will take time to establish, resulting in potential gaps in protections the later it gets.

Harris noted the daily number of individuals losing status and living with the fear of possible deportation and inability to work.

"These timelines are not theoretical," she said. "There is literally a consequence each day we don't get it done."

Her concerns were echoed by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who has been pushing hard in the House for a compromise on DACA.

"I think the later it gets on this issue, the more difficult it will be to put together a workable compromise for everyone," Curbelo said.

Negotiations continue

Negotiations will continue during the holiday break on possible solutions such as pairing a DACA fix with conservative asks like border security, interior enforcement and some elements of immigration reform. On the Senate side, Democratic Whip Dick Durbin's bipartisan working group will continue to meet, likely by phone, according to a source familiar.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, pledged Wednesday to call a bill to the floor if the working group can reach a deal that's acceptable to both sides.

On the House side, bipartisan talks have made substantial progress and the result of those efforts could be introduced in January, when lawmakers are looking to move a deal, though House leadership has not committed to endorse any of those efforts.

One Republican aide said that if lawmakers can reach a compromise in the time the continuing budget resolution buys them, leverage won't change much from the end of December. But closer to March is less forgiving for Democrats.

"I don't think it's a victory for either side. It epitomizes what Congress does best, which is kicking the can down the road," the aide said on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly. "Now, if we manage to kick it down the road past January 19, maybe the dynamic changes."

Sending a message

Democrats hope that the strong show of force against the continuing resolution -- which passed the House with only 13 Democrats and lost 16 Republicans, and passed the Senate with 32 Democratic no votes -- will send a message to Republicans that they will have to negotiate in January.

As lawmakers had faced the possibility of a government shutdown over Christmas, Republicans who have had major opposition to various elements of government funding mostly agreed to punt the issue to January. But Democrats expect that the next go-round, they will not be so willing, and Republicans will have to come asking for Democratic votes.

"I think we end up being in a better position, because they cannot hold their caucus," said Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona. "At some point, the Freedom Caucus and the sort of conservative hawks will end up revolting against a CR, and that's why we need to stay strong, in the House and in the Senate."

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Gallego is a member, made a last-minute march to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office on Thursday to urge him to hold his caucus against the continuing resolution. While it was never expected that Democrats would deny the House-passed CR the votes it needed, especially with vulnerable red state Democrats up for re-election, the hope was that a strong showing of no votes would help send a message to Republicans.

"It keeps the momentum, and I think as we get into more complicated issues like the (spending) cap and others, that presence is just going to get stronger and stronger, because internally they're going to get to the same point that Boehner was at and Ryan's been at trying to hold those groups," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, referring to former House Speaker John Boehner and current Speaker Paul Ryan.

"I think it'll intensify and become more urgent and bitter, period," Grijalva added of January's new deadline. "There's no way to go but it getting more bitter."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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