DeGette: Pass DACA fix by year end or look elsewhere for support on deal to avert shutdown

Author: Ernest Luning - November 23, 2017 - Updated: November 24, 2017

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette addresses the Denver Democrats' annual dinner in October 2015. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette addresses the Denver Democrats’ annual dinner in October 2015. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, said Wednesday she’ll withhold her vote on a crucial December spending deal unless the House passes legislation before the end of the year to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors.

Some congressional Republicans have been pushing to postpone a vote re-establishing the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, until next year, but Democrats are pressing to link the immigration measure to a bill the GOP-controlled Congress must pass to fund the government past a December deadline.

Although leading Democrats want an immigration fix bundled with a year-end spending measure to ensure its passage, DeGette said in an interview with Colorado Politics that she would prefer the House pass a stand-alone bill aimed at restoring protection for immigrants, known as Dreamers. Regardless how it’s accomplished, she said she’s unwilling to kick the fix into the new year.

“I think we need to pass what we call a clean DACA bill by the end of the year,” she said. “Whether it’s a stand-alone bill or in the (continuing resolution), it needs to pass by the end of the year. I’m not going to vote for a CR if it either doesn’t include DACA or there’s not a separate bill that passes by the end of the year.”

President Donald Trump announced in September that the DACA program would stop processing new applications immediately and end entirely in March, giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution for the 800,000 young immigrants granted a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States.

More conservative Republicans want to delay considering DACA legislation until closer to the program’s scheduled demise in hopes of retaining leverage in negotiations over the fate of the young immigrants. Some have said they’re willing to consider extending DACA in some form in exchange for beefing up border security, although others have laid out conditions Democrats indicate will be deal-breakers.

Fractured Republicans need Democratic votes to pass a spending resolution and keep the government open past the current Dec. 8 deadline, giving the minority party its own leverage to force a vote on DACA legislation. Politico reports congressional leaders are working on a short-term extension, potentially pushing a shutdown threat to the days surrounding Christmas.

DeGette dismissed the looming brinksmanship.

“We need to pass it,” she said. “We need to protect these Dreamers.”


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.