The Entire Government May Shut Down As Senators Fight Over DACA
UPDATE (January 20): The government shut down Friday night as anticipated. We’ll keep you posted on any important developments as they roll out.
The Senate faces a vote today that could end with a government shutdown.
The vote in question regards a short-term budget plan that would keep the government up and running until mid-February, when another vote on the federal budget would come up. If the Senate doesn’t pass the bill, the federal government will be shut down until Congress can come up with a budget that will pass.
On Thursday, the House passed the budget that would keep things running for another few weeks, but political observers say the odds are low that the bill will make it through the Senate. The prospects for the budget passing in the Senate look grim primarily because Senate Democrats want to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that will protect more than 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The budget bill requires 60 votes to clear the Senate, but there are only 51 Republicans, three of whom have already said they will vote against the bill, according to NPR. This means that at least 12 Democrats will need to cross party lines and vote in favor of the spending bill if the bill is to pass. According to CNN, only one Democratic senator so far is likely to vote yes: West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
Last year, President Trump announced he would end the program that shields Dreamers from deportation, later adding that he would give Congress until March to restore DACA. Dreamers and their supporters have since been organizing to protect DACA since Trump’s announcement in September.
Cities around the country have seen protests over DACA, and New York and Washington DC, in particular, have seen an outpouring of support for undocumented immigrants. In December, undocumented immigrants who were arrested and later jailed for protesting at Democratic New York senator Chuck Schumer’s office staged a hunger strike. Just this week, dozens of Jewish activists and several Dreamers protested in support of DACA at Capitol Hill; several of the activists were arrested.
In the back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans in Congress over a spending budget, Republicans are attempting to use the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to low-income children, as a bargaining tool. Democrats generally support preserving CHIP, but many do not want to approve other aspects of the existing bill, which does not offer protections for Dreamers and further provides funding for a border wall between the US and Mexico. The latter is, of course, a signature promise from Trump’s presidential campaign.
In the event that the Senate does not pass the budget bill, it will be the first time since 2013 that the government has shut down. If that happens, only “essential” government operations will remain up and running, NPR reports. Essential employees will continue to work, but they won’t get paid. The following institutions will stay active even if the government shuts down: social security, the military, the postal service, travel (including air traffic controllers and the TSA), national parks, federal museums, federal courts, Congress, and federal agencies (such as the Department of Education and the IRS).
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(Photos via Zach Gibson + David McNew/Getty)