Massive Congressional spending package includes gun law fix, leaves out DACA

MARCH 21, 2018

Congress plans to unveil a massive bipartisan $1.3 trillion spending package on Wednesday in a move that will keep the government funded until the end of September, according to reports.

If it passes, the plan from Congressional leaders reportedly includes funding levels for every corner of the government; $700 billion is budgeted for defense and $591 billion for non-defense spending.

The omnibus includes $1.6 billion for border security, but that won’t include funds for a concrete wall, according to reports. Roughly $641 million will go to 33 miles of new fencing, while $1.3 billion will be used for border security technology.

Included in the package, at the urging of President Donald Trump, is a tentative deal to pass modest gun legislation, “sources familiar with the talks” told Politico. The legislation is expected to include a policy rider commonly known as “Fix NICS,” a background check bill for gun purchases called the Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background System) Act.

Not included are protections for recipients of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or so-called “Dreamers.” The exclusion of any protections for Dreamers has Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) up in arms, saying Latinos and immigrants have been “run over by the omnibus.”

The Washington Examiner reports: [Gutierrez] railed against his colleagues for once again striking a deal on a massive $1.3 trillion spending package that will fund the government through September without including relief for young, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

“I’m voting against the omnibus because I’m against the continued deportation of hard-working immigrants and families in communities like mine in Chicago,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “It would be like me voting against the Iraq war and then turning around and voting for military spending to execute that war.”

There was little expectation that text providing a pathway to citizenship for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be included as multiple prior attempts to forge a deal have failed.

The report continues: After the budget agreement outlining spending caps for the omnibus passed in February without resolving the status of some 800,000 DACA recipients, Democrats admitted that they had little to no leverage left to pressure Republicans into passing something before the end of the year. Prior to March 5, roughly 122 Dreamers per day lost their permits. That number is expected to have exponentially increased this month as more permits were set to expire. And more than 20,000 are waiting for their permits to be renewed.

Gutierrez said: “For all of the talk from Republicans and Democrats since September about rescuing the Dreamers and preventing their deportation, the final omnibus budget gives Trump money for his wall and we get nothing for it. Immigrants and Latinos got run over by the omnibus and we have nothing in return.”

The timing for votes is tight, so Congress must now rush to move the legislation as quickly as possible. Lawmakers have until Friday at midnight to pass the bill, or the government will run out of money.

The House is expected to vote on the plan by Friday.

The Senate must then move quickly enough to avoid a shutdown, but with its rules, if just one lawmaker objects, Senate leaders may be forced to run out the clock and face a temporary shutdown into the weekend.