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In Budget Battle, Pelosi Retreats on DACA and Gun Control

Pelosi offered up disappointing news about the process to Dreamers and gun reform advocates.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi leaves after a weekly news conference March 1, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Congress is set to consider a long-term spending measure next week, and the Democrats’ leader in the House offered up disappointing news about the process to Dreamers and gun reform advocates.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that her caucus would not insist on a DACA fix or new gun control measures as part of the omnibus spending bill coming down the pike.

The government runs out of money again on March 23, providing Democrats with leverage to demand Dreamer legislation or expanded gun sale background checks in exchange for keeping the government open. But Pelosi is already backing down from that fight.

“None of these bills has to be part of the omnibus,” she said on Thursday, referring to the several immigration and gun proposals floating around the chamber.

“The omnibus bill has other problems in it, even if the Dreamers never existed,” Pelosi added. She pointed to measures under consideration by GOP leadership to defund Planned Parenthood.

In January, Senate Democrats maneuvered to shut down the government until a fix for Dreamers was signed into law. The party, however, backed down after only a few days and agreed to reopen the government on a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he would bring a DACA bill to the floor for a vote.

The promise yielded no legislative advancements, and no consideration of a stand-alone bill to restore status to Dreamers.

At the time, Pelosi blasted Senate Democrats’ capitulation, and voted against the spending measure to re-open the government, citing the failure to protect Dreamers. She later remarked on the process that excluded Dreamers: “It’s unfortunate that it’s taking place in an insulting way for those of us who are trying to protect the values of our country.”

President Trump announced in September that he would be ending the DACA program (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) on March 5. He instructed Congress to come up with a permanent solution for the roughly 800,000 individuals who were brought to the country as children and still live here.

The courts have since blocked Trump from formally ending the DACA program. A federal judge in California ruled in January that DACA’s “rescission was arbitrary and capricious.”

Still, the turmoil and uncertainty around the program have forced upwards of 100,000 prior DACA recipients to lose their status, either by failing to renew it or leaving the country.

Pelosi’s retreat on the issue was seconded by her number two in command in the House: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

“I think the omnibus needs to be considered on its own merits,” the Democratic whip said earlier this week.

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