Less than 24 hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rolled Democrats into voting to reopen the government in exchange for his promise to revisit legislation on DACA, his fellow congressional Republicans are already pumping the brakes on any potential immigration fix.
Deportation protections for around 800,000 DACA recipients are set to expire in March, thanks to President Donald Trump’s September decision to cancel the Obama-era program. McConnell vowed to bring a DACA fix to a vote before the next impending shutdown on Feb. 8, but top House Republicans don’t seem to care.
“March is really the timeline,” Republican House Whip Steve Scalise told Politico on Tuesday morning. “The House wasn’t part of that deal.” The site said Scalise did “not feel at all bound” by McConnell’s promise. Nor, it seemed, was he alone.
“It’s been crystal clear,” Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole told The Hill. “Just because [the Senate] accept[s] something, doesn’t mean we will.
“And,” he added, “it certainly doesn’t mean the administration will.”
The Senate Democrats’ decision to trust Mitch McConnell’s word on a future DACA fix has already been intensely criticized. McConnell, in particular, has a well-documented track record of not following through on his own promises—to say nothing of promises that also need the sign-off of an entirely different group of people he has no control over.
“I don’t think [House Speaker Paul Ryan] should commit to a single thing,” Cole said to The Daily Beast. “We didn’t shut down the government; they did. We’re not in the business of negotiating with terrorists, whether they’re political or otherwise.”
In other words, even if McConnell actually delivers and allows for some serious DACA debate in the coming weeks, any potential compromise might be D.O.A. the moment it hits the other side of the Capitol—and that’s all before it lands on Trump’s desk.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients remain in legislative limbo, and the clock is ticking. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointedly refused to deny that administration would begin actively deporting DACA recipients after Trump’s self-imposed March deadline.