Schumer and Pelosi on Opposite Sides of Budget Deal, As the Fate of Dreamers Hangs in the Balance
It's a tale of two Democratic leaders, neither of whom can seem to unite their caucuses over immigration, but one of whom is willing to go the extra mile for immigration.
With just over a day until America's latest budget deal expires, the Democrats are split over whether or not to vote for a new Continuing Resolution that does not include protection for immigrants who came to this country as children (known as Dreamers), but whose work permits and protection from deportation are set to expire on March 5. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, is over five hours (at the time of writing) into a filibuster on the House floor, telling Dreamers' stories. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is celebrating the deal, calling it "'the best thing we’ve done' for the middle class and the economy," according to the Associated Press, and noting, "We have reached the budget deal that neither side loves but both sides can be proud of."
He neglected to mention that while the deal, if enacted, would fund the government for two years and support health care, drug abuse, and social service programs, it does not offer protection to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who will be at risk of deportation if the government doesn't offer an opportunity to renew their permits.
Prior to beginning her filibuster, Pelosi announced Wednesday morning, according to the Washington Post, that "she and 'a large number' of fellow Democrats will oppose a spending deal to keep the government open unless she is guaranteed a vote on immigration legislation."
Activists have been pressuring Democrats for months not to vote on a Continuing Resolution unless it includes a clean Dream Act. They've returned to the Capitol to stage protests since September, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides the aforementioned protections. After failing to force a government shutdown before Christmas, advocates from a variety of groups, including United We Dream, The Center for Popular Democracy, and Make The Road, managed to convince Senate Democrats to do so in January. It was a brief victory, however, as while Democrats were able to extract an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, they did not get a Dream Act, and instead kicked the decision to February 8. They were back in Washington on Wednesday to make another push.
LIVE: Dreamers taking over Senate office buildings to demand a #DreamActNow via @UNITEDWEDREAM https://t.co/dyPo6DzDOZ— Brynna Quillin (@Brynna Quillin)1518032943.0
"My daughter is the reason why I'm here today. She doesn't need me for the next two years, she needs me for the res… https://t.co/Z0PqcjQelG— Make the Road NY 🦋 (@Make the Road NY 🦋)1518027565.0
“We are not going to let this admistration destroy our country. This is our America. This is our Congress. This is… https://t.co/sgmZGLKHv1— Popular Democracy (@Popular Democracy)1518027613.0
Nancy Pelosi may not be successful, but she's clearly paying more attention to the popular opinion of the Democratic base, which, as AlterNet has mentioned previously, is uniquely united around the need for a red line on the Dream Act. In fact, most of America agrees. According to a Washington Post-ABC survey, 86 percent of respondents expressed "support for Dreamers who had been eligible for renewable two-year work permits under a deferred action program started by President Barack Obama to remain in the country." Politifact also collected multiple polls with similar results.
Watch Pelosi's filibuster below.