- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2017

The House raced Thursday to head off a government shutdown, approving a four-week extension of funding for basic operations — and forcing a major decision for Senate Democrats, who must decide whether to accept the deal.

A number of high-profile Senate Democrats have already said they would vote against the stopgap spending bill, saying it didn’t do enough for health care and complaining that it didn’t include the Dream Act legislation granting citizenship rights to nearly 2 million illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

They were bolstered by hundreds of Dreamers who have marched through the corridors of Congress this week, demanding a shutdown unless they are taken care of.

Without more money, the government will face a partial shutdown Saturday morning.

The House voted 231-188 to approve a four-week extension of spending, to Jan. 19, at 2017 levels. The bill also heads off a number of other deadlines, renewing short-term funding for the Veterans Choice health care program, extending the government’s ability to surveil foreign communications for intelligence purposes, and ensuring the Children’s Health Insurance Program won’t run out of money over the next few months.

Each of those were vital to Democrats, but the party’s leaders still labeled the bill an “epic failure of governing,” saying it should have gone further in spending on domestic needs — and saying it should have granted legal status to Dreamers.

“The Republican majority has made a complete mess of the very basics of governing,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

GOP leaders vowed to come back next year and work on legislation for the Dreamers, saying there’s plenty of time before the March 5 deadline President Trump set for phasing out DACA, the Obama-era deportation amnesty that’s currently protecting nearly 700,000 Dreamers.

“We will address the issue. We do care very much about this issue,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Republicans are demanding that any legalization bill include stiff new security measures to prevent another wave of illegal immigration. They are hoping to head off a repeat of 1986, when Congress enacted an amnesty and it spurred the biggest surge of illegal immigration in history.

But Democrats are resisting many of the GOP’s requests, derailing chances for a deal this month.

Dreamers had set an artificial end-of-month deadline for action on their situation, and Democratic leaders bought into that deadline. Now, with a shutdown looming and members eager to clean up business and head home, the artificial deadline is slipping.

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