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The U.S. Capitol pictured at night. The federal government is reopening on Jan. 23, 2018 after lawmakers reached a funding deal. (MGN)

Shutdown ends, but Dreamer issue lingers and new deadline looms


After a 69-hour government shutdown, President Donald Trump signed a short-term funding bill on Monday night.

But some say it’s just a band-aid or a tourniquet because it only lasts until February 8th, leaving Congress with about two-and-a-half weeks to agree on a permanent fix before lawmakers could face a similar standoff.

The Senate passed the revised bill to fund the government 81 to 18 and it quickly got through the House. Now about 800,000 federal workers will look to get reimbursed. About 25,000 workers were part of a class action lawsuit after the 2013 shutdown over delayed payment.

In addition to the new budget deadline, there is still the looming question of whether immigration reform will be tied to it or handled separately. The fight to protect those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the so-called Dreamers, was left on the back burner Monday.

Democrats had refused to fund the government unless the Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country as children illegally by their parents, were provided with permanent protection. Republicans maintained that the matter should be dealt with separately from keeping the government open, and they said they would only negotiate on DACA after it reopened.

What was signed by Trump Monday does include a six-year reauthorization of a popular children’s health care program, $31 billion in tax cuts and a delay on a medical device tax.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he intends to deal with Dreamers and other immigration issues in the weeks ahead and allow a vote on it, a vague assurance that proved to be enough to garner 33 Democratic votes. Some Democrats are concerned, however, that the deal agreed to by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., offers no guarantee that legislation passed in the Senate would be considered in the House or signed by the president.

“I am skeptical about promises made on the floor of the Senate by the majority leader,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told CNN Tuesday.

After Trump announced the end of the DACA program last fall, federal protection for Dreamers to be able to stay in the country without fear of deportation runs out March 5th. Trump has said he wants to help them, but he has also demanded funding for a border wall and significant changes to the legal immigration system.

“We want a large agreement,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN Tuesday. “We want a big deal that solves the reason why we have a DACA problem in the first place.”

Mulvaney dodged questions about what Trump’s actual position on the Dreamers is, replying that it “depends on what we get in exchange.”

Trump told lawmakers in a bipartisan White House meeting earlier this month that he would sign any immigration legislation they pass, but he has already rejected one compromise proposed by a small group of senators.

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