There was no movement Wednesday as top Republican and Democratic leaders met at the White House to lay down their ultimatums for funding the government. With two weeks of funding still allotted, neither side seemed to be in a hurry to compromise.
One of the main sticking points was purely political. Democrats wanted something written into the spending agreement that would give certain guarantees to “Dreamers” who they say are having their futures jeopardized by President Trump’s rescinding of President Obama’s DACA executive order. This is purely for show to try to win back some of the Hispanic voters they lost in 2016 and into 2017. With the President showing more compassion for “Dreamers” than anticipated by preemptively demanding that Congress put together a permanent fix, Democrats needed to regain ground and act as if they’re the ones fighting on behalf of illegal immigrants.
Republicans were equally theatrical with their opposition to such an addition to the funding agreement, claiming they wanted to first fund the government, then address DACA before the March deadline. They could just as easily allowed something in the funding agreement, knowing they’re going to pass some variation of amnesty in the next month and a half, but instead chose to draw the red line.
The more alarming sticking point in the funding deal is that both sides want to spend more and are actually leveraging the other side’s spending increases to negotiate for spending increases of their own. Republicans want to raise defense spending. Democrats are opposed unless they can raise non-defense spending as well. In the end, it’s very likely that this “impasse” will result in both sides getting what they want: move spending across the board.
“It is important that we achieve a two-year agreement that funds our troops and provides for our national security and other critical functions of the Federal government,” the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a joint statement. “It also remains important that members of Congress do not hold funding for our troops hostage for immigration policy.”
“We’ve been clear about these budget priorities from the beginning and hope that further discussions will lead to an agreement soon,” they added.