US shutdown looms amid immigration feud

Updated: Jan 18, 2018, 13:17 IST | IANS

The US government is a day away from a shutdown as lawmakers and the White House feud over immigration

Representation pic
Representation pic

The US government is a day away from a shutdown as lawmakers and the White House feud over immigration. Congress faces a Friday deadline to pass a stopgap measure that would fund federal agencies until next month, BBC reported on Wednesday. Democrats want the bill to include protections for immigrants who entered the US illegally as children.

Hopes of a bipartisan deal were scuttled last week after US President Donald Trump's alleged use of a crude term during White House negotiations. Neither Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, nor Democrats want to be blamed for a federal shutdown with crucial mid-term elections looming in November.

House Republicans are attempting to entice Democrats to vote for the continuing resolution by including a provision to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (Chip) for six years. Chip, which provides healthcare for nine million children, is near the top of Democrats' wish list.

The House of Representatives could vote on the measure as early as Thursday, and if it passes, the bill would go to the Senate. At least some Democratic votes are needed to pass the budget measure ahead of Friday's deadline. However, the Republican proposal could also face opposition among their own hardline rank-and-file in the House.

Republicans hope a provision in the bill to eliminate a tax on expensive health plans could appease conservative lawmakers. Democrats want the bill to include protections for around 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to country as children, known as "Dreamers".

Trump last year ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), the programme that allowed Dreamers to stay in the US. The US president gave a deadline of March 5 for Congress to come up with a solution. The Republican president had signalled he was ready to make a deal to help the Dreamers in return for funding on border security, including a wall along the US border with Mexico.

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