Senate Approves Temporary Spending Bill

Senate Approves Temporary Spending Bill

Grace Fiori, Editor

Monday night, Trump officially approved a short-term spending bill which allows the government to continue to be funded through February 8th before a final solution must be voted on for permanent 2018 government spending bill. This happened  after intense commotion in Congress, which shut down the government for three days. Senate Democrats refused to support the bill that the House had already passed. They only agreed after Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, and many Republicans promised to address the status of DACA or open Congress up to a debate.

Last week there was turmoil in Congress as Republicans pressured Democrats to support the new federal spending bill while activists pressured Democrats to reinstate protections for DACA, a program that protects young illegal immigrants ability to work and study.

Congressional Republicans self-imposed deadline required the federal budget to be approved or risk a government shutdown. But with tension between Democrats and the White House over the future of immigration in America and many key leaders, such as the President, flip flopping on whether to preserve DACA or focus on stricter immigration reform, no agreement on the federal budget had been reached.

Republican leaders, in an effort to gain Democratic support for the bill, added a six year extension of CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. If the Democrats opposed the spending bill, they could essentially have shut down the renewal of the children’s health care initiative.

Many accused Republican lawmakers of using children’s health insurance as a lure, and goading Democrats into deciding whether to focus on DACA or CHIP, both causes Democrats have championed.

CHIP was an initiative started in the Bill Clinton administration, and is widely popular. It’s funding ran out in the fall and along with the Dreamers, is another initiative that Democrats have been hoping to reinstate. 

Now, Republicans are boasting their support. The New York Times reported that Paul Ryan spoke on Wednesday, “…it makes no sense for Democrats to try and bring us to a shutdown, to try and cut off CHIP funding for the states that are running out of money, like Minnesota and Washington and Kentucky and other states.”

Late on Thursday of last week, the House of Representatives passed the four week stopgap to approve spending, continue funding to the government and renew CHIP. However, only six Democrats supported it. For the official bill to proceed, Republicans would need 60 votes in the Senate, and already many Democrats and three Republican senators have vowed not to support the bill.

To add to the confusion during last week, that Thursday morning President Trump tweeted that he did not feel as if the CHIP program should be included in spending bill. This upset the current Republican strategy and, whether he did so eventually or not, supported the Democrats.

Many liberal activists are upset that the government shutdown did not yield any official agreement on the future of the immigrants, and do not trust the word of the Republicans. Needless to say, 33 Democrats took their colleagues words and voted to continue the funding. The future of DACA is now going to be tested as its continuance rests on the ability of Democrats and Republicans to compromise. If the Republicans do keep their word, then a DACA resolution could officially be passed, the spending bill could pass, and officially assuage many federal workers fears of another shutdown.