Likely short of the votes he needs to pass a stopgap government funding bill through his chamber by Friday, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spent Wednesday morning railing against Democrats—whose votes he might need to court.
A four-week continuing resolution that GOP leaders unveiled Tuesday night faces opposition from members of the House Freedom Caucus who want immediate action to increase defense spending and Democrats who want a resolution this week on the status of young documented immigrants known as Dreamers.
While Ryan swatted off a question about whether he has the Republican votes to pass a CR, saying GOP leaders haven’t whipped it yet, he is likely to find he’ll need to negotiate with the Freedom Caucus or with Democrats.
The speaker’s comments during a Wednesday morning news conference repeatedly criticizing Democrats for threatening to oppose the CR over immigration suggest he’s unlikely to reach out to the latter.
“It’s baffling to me that Democrats would be willing to block funding for our military over unrelated issues,” Ryan said.
He also said it was “unconscionable” Democrats would oppose funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, six years of which is included in the CR.
Democrats are also preventing agreement on raising the sequestration spending caps needed to write a fiscal 2018 omnibus spending measure instead of further stopgap funding bills, Ryan suggested.
“I think the caps deal is very, very close, and I think the Democrats are holding out on the caps deal over these DACA negotiations,” he said.
Holding up government funding “for deadlines that don’t even exist this Friday, that makes no sense to me,” he added.
The Trump administration supports the House Republican-crafted spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown by week’s end, a White House official told Roll Call.
So far, House Democrats are united in opposition to the four-week CR because it fails to address several of their priorities, including but not limited to the DACA situation, caucus leaders said Wednesday.
To garner large-scale Democratic support, the stopgap measure would need to be more reflective of Democratic “values,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley said. While Democrats support funding for CHIP that was included in the CR, “we believe that it’s woefully lacking in other issues,” the New York Democrat said.
Those other issues include funding for community health centers, opioid abuse prevention and disaster relief, in addition to a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Crowley said.
“Absent that, it will not have the support of the Democratic caucus,” he said.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, the caucus vice chairwoman, said Democrats are “overwhelmingly united” in their opposition to the CR but said no one is forcing members to reach that conclusion.
“Nobody is directing members,” the California Democrat said. “Members are making choices on what’s best for their districts.”
Ryan said Republicans are operating under a March 5 deadline for passing an immigration deal, as that is when the DACA program would end.
The bipartisan, bicameral talks among congressional leaders “speak to the fact” that Republicans want a solution on DACA, he said, calling their push for a more comprehensive deal “perfectly reasonable.”
Trump has called for a DACA fix to include border security measures, including funding for a wall along the southern border, and an end to the diversity visa lottery program and extended family visas.
“The president is being completely rational” in his demands for dealing with the root cause of the DACA issue, and that’s lax border security and enforcement of immigration laws, Ryan said.
“We will not bring a DACA bill that the president won’t support,” Ryan said. “What point would that be?”