GOP Pushes Plan To Keep Government Open While DACA Decided

Jan 17, 2018
Originally published on January 17, 2018 10:02 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

House Republicans met last night and proposed a temporary measure that keeps the government funded at least until the middle of February. This whole thing buys time for lawmakers to work out their differences on protecting the young undocumented immigrants who call the United States home. The House is expected to vote on this spending measure tomorrow. NPR's Mara Liasson is here to talk through the latest.

Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: What's in this short-term spending bill?

LIASSON: Well, it's important to say what's not in this short-term spending bill is anything to do with immigration, which is the biggest issue that Congress is grappling with right now. But what's in it is a short-term spending extension through February 16. That buys the Congress a couple of more weeks to deal with immigration. It would reauthorize the CHIP program - that's the Children's Health Insurance Program - for six years. And it would extend the delay on a couple of Obamacare-related taxes and also include a provision to provide more money for missile defense, purportedly to appeal to conservatives.

MARTIN: So Democrats are not going to be happy that this doesn't have a fix for DACA in it. But Republicans, I guess, are trying to lure them into voting for this because it would be tough for Democrats to vote against CHIP funding?

LIASSON: Yes. That's possible, although CHIP does have bipartisan support. The big question now is - if it does go to the floor tomorrow in the House, will the Freedom Caucus support it? They are the conservative group of House members who, in the past, have not wanted to vote for short-term spending bills. But the last time Congress passed one of these, they did pass it with just Republican votes. They had enough votes to pass it by themselves. They didn't need Democratic votes. That's not going to be true in the Senate, where this bill will need 60 votes.

MARTIN: Yeah.

LIASSON: Unlike tax cuts or judges, you can't just pass it with 50. So that means compromise.

MARTIN: So meanwhile, Mara, explain this. The Justice Department is now asking the Supreme Court to get involved with the DACA debate. What's happening here?

LIASSON: Right. Well, the president removed the protection from deportation that President Obama had given to the DREAMers, young people brought here, in many cases illegally, by their parents.

MARTIN: Right.

LIASSON: That was challenged in court. The court put a stay on the end of the DACA program. And now the Justice Department wants to appeal that because they want to go ahead and get rid of the program - if Congress doesn't do anything about it by March 5. That's the deadline that President Trump gave Congress. He said, I'm going to get rid of the DACA protections unless you legislate something.

MARTIN: All right. We will keep following this. Just in seconds remaining, though, Mara, we should note the president had a - he went to the doctor. He had his...

LIASSON: He went to the doctor.

MARTIN: ...Physician's appointment

LIASSON: And he got a clean bill of health. Doctor said the president's overall health is excellent. He gave him a cognitive test. He tested all sorts of other things. We know that, according to the doctor, the president is 6'3", weighs 239 pounds - just a little shy of obese.

MARTIN: And so the doctor recommended that he might think about exercise.

LIASSON: Yes, exercise and diet. And apparently, the president wants to do that.

MARTIN: All right, NPR's Mara Liasson this morning - thanks so much, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.