Democrats: All Talk No Action

Congress is headed for a funding showdown in the new year. Continuing resolutions have extended the budget deadline to January 19. Republicans control the Legislative and Executive branches but need their Democratic colleagues to pass the budget; giving Democrats the political leverage needed to get a deal done on CHIP funding and the Dream Act.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides healthcare to 9 million low-income children. It’s popular among voters and has strong bipartisan support in Congress. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski tweeted in favor of the program on December 13.

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However, the bipartisan backing wasn’t enough to bring a vote to the floor in 2017. Instead, Republicans have prioritized passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations and wealthy individuals over funding children’s health care.

Similarly, the Dream Act has also gone without a vote. The legislation would grant a pathway to permeant legal status to the nearly 800,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. There is surprisingly strong bipartisan support for the Dream Act. Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell expressed interest in helping Dreamers, but they will have to get in line because they are not a Republican priority.

Republicans have elected to put tax cuts ahead of children’s health care and legal status for Dreamers, leaving Democrats as their only beacon of hope. Unfortunately, they are not lighting the way. Democrats’ inability to withhold votes on the continuing budget resolution until Republicans agreed to their demands for CHIP funding and a vote on the Dream Act was a failure of leadership, leaving those they claim to support in the dark.

While Democrats are cozied up at home with their families for the holiday recess, the families of 9 million CHIP and 14,000 DACA recipients have been left out in the cold to anxiously contemplate the future of their children’s health care and the tenuous immigration status of their loved ones as the January 19 budget deadline looms.

Rightly or wrongly, Democrats have been criticized for their unwillingness to play hardball to achieve legislative objectives. The passing of a second continuing resolution to fund the government until January 19 and not using the political leverage they have to force a vote has proven those critics right.

Why stand with the Democratic Party if they have forgotten what they stand for? Remind your representatives that we are the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid and believes every American should have access to quality, affordable health care. We believe that immigration is a defining aspect of the American character and we will defend DACA. These values are outlined in the Democratic platform. If Democrats forget their promise to protect health care for low-income children and legal status for DACA recipients at the January 19 roll call, we will remember them on Primary Day.