Home / World News / No deal for ‘Dreamers’ expected by year’s end as lawmakers struggle over key agenda items – The Denver Post

No deal for ‘Dreamers’ expected by year’s end as lawmakers struggle over key agenda items – The Denver Post

By Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A promised year-end deal to protect the young immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation collapsed Wednesday as Republicans in Congress — fresh off passage of their tax plan — prepared to punt nearly all remaining must-do agenda items into the new year.

Congressional leaders still hope that before leaving town this week they can pass an $81 billion disaster-relief package with recovery funds for California wildfires and Gulf Coast states hit during the devastating hurricane season. But passage even of that relatively popular measure remained in doubt as conservatives balked at the price tag.

Rather than finish the year wrapping up the legislative agenda, the GOP majorities in the House and Senate struggled over their next steps.

Congressional leaders had hoped to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which provides insurance for some 9 million children nationwide, and pass measures to stabilize the Affordable Care Act. Instead, they appeared resigned by the end of the day to simply avoiding a government shutdown Friday by extending into mid-January the deadline for passing money bills and picking up the legislative battles in 2018.

For Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, many of whom have been protesting for weeks at the Capitol, Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, had a simple message: “I’m sorry.”

“We have a long way to go,” said Durbin, who has led efforts to pass legislation known as the DREAM Act in the Senate. “I’m sorry that what we thought would be a moment and an opportunity did not happen.

“At this point it looks unlikely.”

Nearly 800,000 immigrants who were protected under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order are at risk of deportation now that President Donald Trump has announced the end of the program in March. More than 1,000 immigrant advocates arrived in Washington this week pleading with lawmakers to negotiate a legislative solution before leaving town for the Christmas holiday, a deadline for action that Democratic leaders had insisted on earlier this year.

Durbin and others continued to hold out hope that Congress could act on a version of the DREAM Act in January. At least one Republican who has been involved in negotiations on the issue, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, predicted a deal was still at hand.

“Bipartisan #DACA bill will be on the Senate floor in January,” he tweeted.

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