Durbin Doubts DACA Deal, Second Government Shutdown Will Happen

Resolution by Thursday 'not likely,' but he doesn't think Dems will withhold funding again over amnesty for illegals

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said it’s “not likely” Congress will reach a deal to save the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before Thursday’s government funding deadline. He made his remarks on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

President Donald Trump announced in September he was rescinding the DACA program while giving Congress until March to pass a legislative fix. The government briefly shut down in January after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on funding that included both a DACA fix and funding for a border wall and other immigration enforcement priorities.

Durbin, the Senate’s minority whip, told CNN host Jake Tapper that reaching a bipartisan DACA deal before Thursday wasn’t likely.

“There is not likely to be a DACA deal, though we’re working every single day, on telephone calls and person-to-person, to try to reach this bipartisan agreement,” Durbin said.

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Trump took to Twitter Thursday to express his own doubts about reaching a DACA deal by Thursday.

“The Democrats just aren’t calling about DACA. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have to get moving fast, or they’ll disappoint you again. We have a great chance to make a deal or, blame the Dems! March 5th is coming up fast,” Trump tweeted.

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Although he’s not optimistic about reaching a deal this week, Durbin said he believes Congress is “making real progress” toward reaching an eventual compromise.

“I want to salute the moderates in both the Republicans and Democratic caucuses in the Senate,” Durbin said. “They have really been a positive voice, Democrats and Republicans sitting in the same room working to try to solve this problem.”

Tapper pointed to a CNN poll conducted shortly after January’s government shutdown; it showed that 56 percent of Americans believed keeping the government open was more important than reaching a DACA deal affecting the 700,000 or so illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

“The next deadline to fund the government is Thursday. Do you vow right now that you will not shut the government down again if there is not a DACA deal before the deadline?” Tapper asked Durbin.

Related: Durbin Claims DACA Amnesty Is ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

Durbin replied, “I don’t see a government shutdown coming, but I do see a promise by [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell finally to bring this critical issue that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in America — finally bringing it to a full debate in the Senate. That’s what we were looking for when there was a shutdown. We have achieved that goal. We’re moving forward.”

McConnell told reporters Thursday during a GOP retreat that the Democrats’ attempts to use the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to clinch a DACA deal “has clearly been eliminated.”

“I don’t think we’ll see a threat [of a] government shutdown again over this subject. One of my favorite old Kentucky country sayings is, ‘There’s no education in the second kick of a mule,’ and so I think there will be a new level of seriousness here trying to resolve these issues,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.

Durbin and the Democrats, however, still face immense pressure from their party’s progressive activists and radical immigration advocates, who are unhappy with the failure to provide amnesty for the illegal immigrants covered by DACA.

Durbin was bombarded Thursday at Harvard University during an address before students as demonstrators carried signs reading, “We Are Not Your Bargaining Chip.” They also shouted, “Say it loud, say it clear — immigrants are welcome here!” and “If we don’t get it? Shut it down,” according to the school paper.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].