As Congress switches gears from forcing through a GOP tax plan that caters to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working families to voting on legislation to fund the government, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he will oppose the spending bill to call attention to demands by undocumented immigrants and a federal children’s healthcare program that is rapidly running out of money.
While 42 Senators in the Democratic Caucus have reportedly vowed to filibuster the continuing resolution and trigger a government shutdown if Republicans include any provisions in the spending bill that would undermine environmental regulations, Sanders said on CNN Wednesday that he will vote “no” because of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—which expired at the end of September—and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration terminated earlier that month.
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“Before we even get to the budget, we must take care of several urgent, overdue responsibilities that Republicans have ignored,” Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who both voted against the last spending resolution‚ wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Sunday.
“We must fulfill our promise to 800,000 Dreamers—aspiring young Americans who will lose their legal immigration status if we don’t act,” they wrote about those whose legal status has or will soon expire because the Trump administration ended DACA. Dreamers and immigrant advocates have continued to protest, demanding that Democrats deliver on their promise to pass a bill to restore DACA protections before the New Year.
“We also need to renew expired funding for community health centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program so that tens of millions of families and nine million children don’t lose access to affordable health care,” Sanders and Warren wrote. “These are basic responsibilities and they cannot wait.”
Democrats seem to be backing away from their pledge to fix DACA, with reports that a deal to protect Dreamers but target other undocumented immigrants is being crafted behind closed doors at the White House. However, CHIP—until this year—has enjoyed wide bipartisan support since it launched in 1997. Parents, state lawmakers, and even late-night television show host Jimmy Kimmel are calling on the Republican-led Congress to immediately refund the healthcare program.
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