Washington Update: Week of January 8

January 9, 2018
Washington Update

Budget & Appropriations 

  • Congress has until Jan. 19 to agree on a spending deal to keep the government running. Democrats are demanding that any deal must permanently protect Dreamers —undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age by their parents.
  • Leaders are negotiating how to lift spending caps set by the Budget Control Act that would force automatic cuts unless Congress acts to raise them. Republicans want to devote most of the extra money from raising the caps for additional defense spending while Democrats want “parity” between any increases in defense and non-defense domestic spending. Non-defense spending includes funding for programs like WIC and international food aid.
  • Even if they come to an agreement on topline spending numbers, appropriators say Congress probably will have to pass another temporary funding patch to give lawmakers time to work out the details of an omnibus spending package.
  • It’s unclear at this point how long a potential short-term bill would last, but leaders are discussing a plan to raise the debt limit in February by tying such a measure to a spending bill.
  • Other issues that could affect negotiations, include disaster aid, flood insurance, health care stabilization, and a renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.

Immigration

  • Democrats are using the Jan. 19 spending deadline as an opportunity for leverage in negotiations for Dreamers. President Donald J. Trump says the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has granted protected status to 800,000 undocumented young adults, will end in March unless Congress acts.
  • As part of any immigration deal, the president is pressing for $18 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a proposal Democrats oppose and has generated varying degrees of enthusiasm among Republicans.
  • President Trump plans to host a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers this week to discuss their differences on immigration and the border. Among the topics of discussion will be the president’s demand to terminate family-member immigration in favor of granting visas to people with specific skills or training. The president also wants to end an annual lottery that grants 50,000 immigration visas and permanent residency to people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States.

Act Now!

Call (800-826-3688) or email your representative and senators. Tell them to protect Dreamers by passing the Dream Act (S.1615/H.R.3440) now! 

You can subscribe to the content of Washington Update, delivered to you as an email, in a newsletter called Fresh Bread.

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