In the wake of Congress failing to approve funding to avert a U.S. government shutdown, LGBT groups are placing the blame squarely on President Trump for refusing to agree to deal allowing young, undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers to stay in the United States.
The U.S. government shutdown took place at midnight after the U.S. Senate failed reached the 60-vote threshold needed to advance debate on a continuing resolution to fund the government. The shutdown comes exactly on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
Democrats had pledged to reject any resolution that failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, and provide relief for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump terminated last year. (A federal court in California ruled against the Trump move as a result of litigation, so DREAMers weren’t in danger in deportation at this stage.)
The resolution that came to the Senate floor, approved the U.S. House, would have kept the government open and agreed to Democrats’ demand to reauthorize CHIP, but took no action for DACA recipients. As a result, the Senate voted 50-49 to invoke cloture largely along party-lines, which wasn’t enough to proceed with allowing funds to keep the government open.
David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s government affairs director, said in a statement the shutdown “is the result of a failure of leadership by Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”
“After weeks of racist and irresponsible rhetoric, our nation is now closed for business to those who need its support most,” Stacy said. “It’s wrong to pit DREAMers against children’s health coverage. We can and should protect the 800,000 young people who could be forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known, and vital health care for vulnerable children.”
Both Democrats and Republicans sought to deflect blame for the shutdown immediately after the vote in the Senate came up short. Democrats tagged the move as #TrumpShutdown, while Republicans used the tag #SchumerShutdown.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attributed the shutdown to the unwillingness of Senate Democrats to keep the government open in a statement.
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” Sanders said. “Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”
Among the Senate Democrats who voted against the continuing resolution was Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only out lesbian in Congress, who said in a statement the measure “simply kicks the can down the road and fails to get the job done for the American people.”
“Congressional Republicans let funding for CHIP expire nearly four months ago, then gave permanent tax cuts to powerful corporations but they won’t provide permanent funding for children’s health care,” Baldwin said. “This short-term bill gives tax breaks to big insurance companies but it doesn’t fund community health centers in Wisconsin or provide our local communities with the support they need to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives.”
Trump has said he’s willing to sign legislation that would allow DACA recipients to remain in the United States. As the shutdown approached, Congress had reached a bipartisan agreement that would have kept the government open and provided relief for DREAMers. The White House, however, rejected that agreement on the basis it didn’t provide enough funding for border security.
Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement after the shutdown Republicans “chose to reject” bipartisan opportunities on the table.
“Instead of continuing to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, pass a permanent solution to protect Dreamers, and keep the government’s doors open, President Trump and his party continue to hold children and young people hostage,” Praeli said. “We denounce poisoning the atmosphere of compromise through hostile tweets, racist comments and a fixation on wasteful, harmful border walls.”
A common theme was budget negotiations were poisoned by Trump’s reported statement at a White House meeting that Haiti and African nations were “shithole countries” and immigrants from there shouldn’t be allowed into the United States. Trump has denied making the comments, but Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who was in attendance at the meeting, insists they’re accurate.
Tyrone Hanley, policy counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, also blamed Trump for the shutdown in a statement and called it “completely avoidable.”
“President Trump and GOP leaders rejected workable solutions to bring the wheels of government to a grinding halt to pursue a cruel, racist agenda,” Hanley said.
It remains to be seen when Congress will come to an agreement on funding to reopen the government. In the meantime, federal workers are furloughed and the U.S. government will be compromised in delivering services to the American public.