The immigration issue has been the focal point of much of the political wrangling over the budget, particularly over the past few weeks. The most recent deal offered by Trump would have traded $25 billion for his wall in return for a three-year extension of DACA protection for both the 700,000 young people enrolled in the program and the 1.1 million more who did not enroll because they did not want to reveal their undocumented status to the federal authorities.
Ultimately, the Democratic leadership decided to reject such a deal, but the issue became the occasion for a parliamentary move that underscores the utter cynicism of the Democrats on the fate of these young people.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent out a letter Wednesday night to the Democratic caucus, urging all Democrats to vote against the procedural motion to bring the budget bill to the floor, citing the failure to incorporate protection for DACA recipients into the legislation. She portrayed such a vote as a fundamental stand on principle.
When the procedural motion came to the floor, however, instead of the expected party-line vote, 25 ultra-right Republicans announced their opposition. The motion faced defeat, with only 210 Republicans and one right-wing Democrat, Kyrsten Sinnema of Arizona, voting for it, while 25 Republicans and 187 Democrats planned to vote against.
However, five of the Democrats unexpectedly abstained, allowing the procedural motion to pass narrowly, 211-207. Then all five voted against the final passage of the budget, an empty gesture, since they could have defeated it in the procedural vote. There is little doubt that this maneuver was choreographed by Pelosi so that the Democrats could posture as defenders of the DACA youth, while posing no obstacle to enactment of the budget.
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