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Bennet, Gardner vote for 3-week spending resolution to reopen government but still want DACA deal

President expected to approve new CR Monday
Posted at 12:49 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 19:52:10-05

DENVER – Both of Colorado’s U.S. senators voted Monday for a new three-week stop-gap spending solutionafter Democrats said they had received assurances that talks over the bipartisan immigration plan reached two weeks ago would be discussed and get a floor hearing.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D) both supported ending debate in favor of Monday’s three week measure. The motion to end debate on the House-passed resolution passed in an 81-18 vote after a weekend of tense negotiations that involved both parties, but not the White House.

The Senate finalized back-pay for military members and other federal workers before it sent the three-week solution over to the House, which passed the measure 266-150. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, both Democrats, voted against the resolution, saying the short-term solutions were irresponsible.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) joined Colorado's House Republicans — Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck — in approving the continuing resolution.

President Trump is expected to sign the funding measure Monday evening.

Bennet voted Friday against the House-passed continuing resolution, which would have funded the government through Feb. 16 and also funded the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. The Senate failed to get the necessary 60 votes to pass the House measure, which led to a government shutdown as of midnight Saturday.

Bennet balked Friday at voting for another continuing resolution—the fourth so far in the Trump administration—because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the White House and House Republicans said they wouldn’t commit to supporting the bipartisan “Gang of Six” immigration agreement that Bennet, Gardner and four other bipartisan senators crafted over four months and presented to the president earlier this month. He also said that continuing resolutions were bad for the military.

McConnell had previously committed to bringing a bipartisan immigration deal to the Senate floor if one was reached by the end of January, and the White House had said President Trump would sign a deal if one made it to his desk.

But Trump and the White House changed their stance over the past week and were suddenly uncommitted to any deal, and asked for almost 10 times what he had originally sought in this year’s appropriations request for a border wall planning and funding program.

But the measure the Senate passed Monday will fund the government for three weeks, through Feb. 8, and also includes the six-year CHIP funding extension. McConnell has also pledged to take up immigration legislation, and other measures Democrats have pushed for, should deals on those subjects not be reached by then.

President Trump ended DACA in September and called for Congress to come up with a new solution for recipients and other Dreamers by early March. Then, Congress allowed CHIP funding to expire, and House and Senate leadership failed to bring a measure to continue funding for the program before the House's continuing resolution was brought forward last week.

That was enough for most Democrats and Republican senators who voted against the House measure on Friday to change their vote Monday, though the 16 Democrats and two Republicans who voted against the Monday measure said they didn’t feel there was any more of a promise from McConnell than he previously made.

“This is an unacceptable and disgraceful way to run our federal government. But continuing the government shutdown would have been worse,” Bennet said in a statement after the vote.

He said that the bipartisan immigration group now needed to get “fair consideration” of their proposal.

“Over the next three weeks, our focus should be on building support for this legislation so that it has the sixty votes required to pass the Senate,” he said.

Gardner, who voted for the House measure on Friday, a day after he said he’d support a continuing resolution while also pushing their bipartisan immigration deal, blamed Democrats for the shutdown Monday, saying it was “forced by Democrats” and that it was “dangerous and unnecessary.”

He said that the Monday bill was the same as the House’s, save for the extra week—“one simple change,” he called it.

But Gardner added that he wanted to get a deal done on DACA over the next three weeks as well.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fix many other remaining issues before us including DACA and to restore responsibility in Congress,” Gardner said.

In an interview, Gardner said he was hopeful that McConnell would keep his promise.

"I think what Senator McConnell said is he would bring it to the floor of the Senate and let the Senate work its will, and so I hope that means it's passed. I hope that means it gets through the House and the Senate and the president can sign it," Gardner told Denver7.

He said that there was "almost near unanimity" in the Senate to address the DACA and immigration issues, and said he had a few asks of his colleagues: "I think it's a conversation about what it is they're trying to accomplish--their concerns, is it a dollar amount on border security? Is that what they're worried about? Is it fixing the entry/exit system when it comes to visas? Is it the asylum process?"

But should the immigration deal pass the Senate, it will still have an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House. Rep. Dianna DeGette, D-Colo., told Denver7 she wasn't sure of the prospects.

"My trust in the Republicans over here in the House is at about zero right now, given what's happened in the last year. But maybe they'll pull it together by Feb. 8," DeGette said. "I do see a glimmer of hope because the Republican leadership has now said they will bring up the Dreamers, and I think it's a step in the right direction."

“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children,” Trump said in a statement after the Senate vote.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that the White House was “hopeful” it could sign an immigration bill, but also said the onus would lie with Democrats to come closer to what the White House wants.

She said that President Trump would sign the three-week continuing resolution Monday afternoon or evening.