Hick, Kasich plead for DACA and CHIP funding before government shutdown

Author: Marianne Goodland - January 18, 2018 - Updated: January 19, 2018

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski-file)

Gov. John Hickenlooper and his Republican counterpart from Ohio, Gov. John Kasich, have teamed up once again, this time to plead with Congress to pass a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program  (CHIP) and to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before its time expires on March 5.

Hickenlooper and Kasich sent a letter with their request Thursday to the Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and Senate

“It is paramount that we protect the health and well-being of young people in our country” the two governors wrote.

“CHIP has successfully provided vital health coverage and care to about nine million children for over two decades. Without it, access to essential health services like well child exams, asthma medicine, and hospitalizations will be at risk,” they said.

In Colorado, as of November of last year,  76,175 Colorado kids and pregnant mothers were enrolled in Colorado’s Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+).  Last month, Hickenlooper sought an additional $9.6 million from the Joint Budget Committee to keep the program running until the end of February, a request the JBC approved.

The federal CHIP program provides health insurance coverage to children whose families have incomes of $16,640 per year or less. The program expired on Sept. 30, 2017.

Equally urgent, the governors said, is the need for Congress to authorize the DACA program. More than 12,000 Dreamers, as those in DACA are called, have already lost protected status and can be deported. In Colorado, 17,000 young people are at risk for deportation. The program currently has close to 700,000 participants nationwide.

The DACA program was authorized by an executive order from then-President Barack Obama in 2012. On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump rescinded the executive order but gave Congress six months to authorize it through legislation.

However, last week, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court in northern California put the program on hold while lawsuits are still pending.

“These young people are studying to be teachers, doctors and scientists at our universities,” Hickenlooper and Kasich wrote. “In the absence of congressional action providing for a permanent resolution, the termination of DACA puts these young people and their families in peril, and will destabilize our schools, workplaces and communities. Both a long term reauthorization of CHIP and a permanent solution for DACA recipients enjoy bipartisan support. We encourage you to work across the aisle to protect children’s health care and give DACA recipients the peace of mind of knowing that they can remain in the only country they have ever called home.”

Kasich, Hickenlooper and nine other governors wrote letters in support of DACA back in December.

Congressional Republicans on Tuesday introduced a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded for another month and extend the CHIP program, but not deal with the DACA issue. Whether such a resolution would pass the Senate is another matter. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is absent while he recuperates from cancer, and earlier Thursday, Roll Call reported at least three GOP senators are opposed to the continuing resolution. That leaves the GOP short of the 51 votes they would need to pass the resolution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would then need help from Senate Democrats, who are balking at a funding resolution that doesn’t include extensions for both CHIP and DACA.

Without the continuing resolution, the federal government could shut down Friday.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.