Democrats Fighting Immigration Monies in Omnibus: Schumer

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By Nancy Ognanovich

Democrats are fighting President Donald Trump’s bid to get extra funds in the must-pass omnibus spending package to beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Schumer told reporters that Democrats not only oppose the money Trump wants for construction of a wall along the border but also will fight any inclusion of extra funds for border enforcement programs in the fiscal year 2017 omnibus package that lawmakers want to wrap up and pass before government funds run out in less than 10 days.

“We think that the immigration issue should be discussed in the 2018 budget where there’s votes and discussion and nothing should be shoved down people’s throats and that would apply to the many immigration issues that are before us, not just the wall,” Schumer said during a conference call.

Billions of dollars for the wall and other funds that Trump wants to boost enforcement have emerged among the “poison pill” riders that Schumer said could threaten passage of the omnibus by the time federal money runs out at midnight April 28. The government is operating under a stopgap continuing resolution because only one of the 12 fiscal 2017 bills was enacted last fall.

Schumer suggested that Democrats have considerable leverage in the talks over the details of the omnibus, which have continued during lawmakers’ two-week recess.

“Our Republican colleagues know they control the House, the Senate, the White House [and] a shutdown would fall on their shoulders and they don’t want it,” Schumer said.

‘Four Corners’ Talks Continue

Schumer said talks between House and Senate appropriators have been progressing well during the recess to resolve outstanding issues in the 11 remaining bills. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have discussed a plan to use the House-passed Defense Department appropriations bill (H.R. 1301) as a lead vehicle for combining all the bills.

Schumer said the talks continue to involve the “four corners”—the top Republicans and Democrats on the various Appropriations subcommittees in both chambers—and the White House is best served if it stays out of the process. A late-in-the-game effort by the new administration to interject itself could risk a shutdown, he said.

“I think there’s agreement, quiet agreement in the four corners, that if the president doesn’t interfere and insist on poison pill amendments to be shoved down the throats of the Congress we can come up with an agreement,” Schumer said.

On immigration, Schumer’s comments suggest that besides the wall, Democrats also oppose using the 2017 package to boost money for border control and enforcement programs at the Department of Homeland Security. Trump asked for about $3 billion in his 2017 spending supplemental request for those programs.

Democrats Seek ACA Provision

But Schumer said Democrats have items of their own that they want in the final package. Among other things, he said they are pressing in the negotiation for a provision that would ensure that the new administration doesn’t block cost-sharing reduction subsidies that are part of the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re working hard to get it in the bill,” Schumer said. “We’re very hopeful, negotiations seem to be going quite well.”

“We want to make a good budget that meets our principles,” he added. ``But so far, so good.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Ognanovich in Washington at nognanov@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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