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Are Democrats messing up the budget deal?


A bipartisan deal appears to be in its final stages in the Senate. The agreement to raise the debt ceiling would come with increased domestic and defense spending, as well as disaster relief. The Deferred Action on Child Arrivals program, however, is not included in this deal. That means that the 800,000 undocumented immigrants dependent on the program won’t be used as hostages by Republicans to extract non-immigration concessions, but it also means that those 800,000 people will remain in legal limbo, with time running out.

This deal appears to have the necessary support in the Senate, but its fate in the House, where there are a number of wild cards, is far less certain. Given the increase in government spending, the Republican Freedom Caucus could balk. Given their relatively small size, however, this might not be a problem if enough Democrats are persuaded to come on board. But the past few months have shown a real division between Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on what to do with DACA. Schumer has been content to let it be dealt with separately from any spending, while Pelosi has been more insistent that immigration should be part of a larger budget package.

Putting immigration aside would mean that Republicans wouldn’t be able to hold hostages to extract budget concessions—but it doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to hold hostages to extract concessions on immigration and border security. It would also take away some Democratic leverage on the issue, because they would lose the ability to shut down the government over DACA. Time will tell whether a budget deal will pave the way for an immigration deal, or whether Democrats ended up folding their strongest cards.