Trump signs Bill to end 3-day govt shutdown

Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme demonstrating in California on Monday for a clean Dream Act that will protect undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme demonstrating in California on Monday for a clean Dream Act that will protect undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.PHOTO: REUTERS

But face-off on immigration looms as deal funds govt only till Feb 8

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump signed a Bill on Monday to end a three-day government shutdown.

The impasse broke after Senate Democrats accepted a deal from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that will fund the government till Feb 8.

In exchange, Mr McConnell agreed to address Democrats' demands that Congress restore protection against deportation of young, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, known as "dreamers".

"I am pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress have now come to their senses," Mr Trump said in a statement read at a White House briefing. "We will make a long-term deal if and only if it's good for our country."

The Senate passed the Bill 81-18 and, over an hour later, it cleared the House on a 266-150 vote.

The Bill, H.R. 195, sets the clock for a showdown between Republicans and Democrats over immigration, one that could potentially end in another stand-off over spending.

Senator John Thune, the No. 3 Republican in the Chamber, said it is unlikely that Congress can pass a final spending Bill in three weeks and it will probably need a fifth stop-gap measure.

Mr Trump and Republican conservatives have demanded that any immigration deal include funding for his signature border wall and changes in immigration laws to end visa preferences for family members of US citizens, which he disparages as "chain migration".

"The Republican majority now has 17 days to prevent the dreamers from being deported," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said, underscoring the impending deadline.

The deal is the culmination of days of negotiations as both parties blame each other for the government closing that began at 12.01am last Saturday.

Senate Democrats ultimately accepted Mr McConnell's commitment that if party leaders and the White House cannot reach a compromise on immigration beforehand, it is his "intention" to permit a Senate vote on an immigration measure after Feb 8.

Monday's bargain only postpones a reckoning on deep divisions among the two parties, conservatives in the House and Mr Trump.

Mr Trump and Republican conservatives have demanded that any immigration deal include funding for his signature border wall and changes in immigration laws to end visa preferences for family members of US citizens, which he disparages as "chain migration".

House Speaker Paul Ryan underscored the differences as Senate leaders negotiated. He promised House Republicans that they will not be bound by any arrangement reached in the Senate on immigration to reopen the government.

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said that once the spending Bill was passed, "I'm hoping we can get serious about a whole host of issues".

Senate Democrats, who had sought firmer guarantees from Mr McConnell on immigration, were initially reluctant to accept his terms. The measure also extended a federal children's health insurance programme.

An amendment was added saying government workers who are furloughed will get their back pay for this shutdown and any other funding lapse this year.

Democrats and some Republicans wanted language protecting people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, programme, as part of the spending Bill to ensure it became law. Some Republicans have opposed such a move, calling it an amnesty.

Mr Trump decided last September to end the Obama-era initiative effective in March, although he said Congress should act to protect them. The US counts 690,000 people enrolled in Daca.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'Trump signs Bill to end 3-day govt shutdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe