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    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    Republicans' no-win choice: Dreamers or Defense

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    Republicans’ no-win choice: Dreamers or defense

    The government shutdown threat is forcing the party to choose between maintaining a hard line on immigration or spending more on the military.

    By Rachel Bade and Connor O'Brien
    01/17/2018 07:17 PM EST



    “I am going to be very hard to deal with if we continue to delay funding the Defense Department,” Sen. Lindsey Graham warned this week. | Alex Wong/Getty Images




    President Donald Trump and Republican leaders are being forced to choose between two prized conservative priorities as they try to head off a government shutdown: bolstering the military or taking a hard line against immigration.


    Democrats’ refusal to strike a long-term budget accord without a deal to shield 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation means Republican can’t have both. They can strike a deal to protect Dreamers, which would upset the base but secure the extra defense spending they’ve pined for. Or they can continue to hold the line against the Obama-era immigration program known as DACA, keep struggling to pass patchwork spending bills, and let the Pentagon limp along with no infusion of money.



    It’s a no-win for the party, pitting immigration hard-liners against defense hawks. So far, GOP leaders have prioritized keeping the government open, while holding out for immigration concessions from Democrats. But some defense hawks are losing their patience.


    “I’m not gonna vote for a CR,” or short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday of leadership’s latest four-week spending plan. “See, you’re destroying the military here… [Lawmakers] owe it to the military to fix this problem and there is no way in the world to fix this problem without dealing with the DACA issue.”
    GOP leaders largely reject the notion that they cannot have both. Instead, Republicans and defense hawks have accused the left of playing politics with national security matters, and prioritizing undocumented immigrants over the



    “The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security,” Trump tweeted this week. “The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever.”
    Added Rep. Warren Davidson, a House Freedom Caucus member from Ohio: “Essentially, they’re picking 800,000 people whose families brought them here illegally versus funding our troops, and that’s very frustrating.”
    When Trump and GOP leaders emerged from a meeting at Camp David two weeks ago, they vowed that 2018 would be the year of the military. Vice President Mike Pence said the president wanted “investment in our military to truly rebuild and make the strongest military in the world even stronger still.”


    But Democrats’ unwillingness to increase defense spending — or pass any long-term budget deal — without a fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has halted those plans in their tracks.
    Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in recent days has tried to up the pressure on Democrats by decoupling DACA from a long-term budget deal. He calls attention to the Pentagon’s challenges every chance he gets.
    On Wednesday, Ryan told reporters that more military members died in training accidents last year than in combat —a statistic military hawks have used of late to underscore the dire state of training and maintenance in the military after years of budgetary pressure. And the speaker said the number of fatal accidents in the armed forces has doubled over the past decade because of outdated equipment, in part due to insufficient funding.



    “These deaths may have been preventable, and it all points back to the deterioration of our readiness and our military resources,” said Ryan, who will speak about military readiness at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday. “And that’s why it’s baffling to me that Democrats would be willing to block funding for our military over unrelated issues.”


    Most military hawks in Congress agree with Ryan that it’s Democrats’ fault, accusing the left of holding the military hostage for immigration.


    "There should be no connection. We ought to do the right thing by the military, regardless of agreement or disagreement on other issues," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry of linking immigration to spending talks.


    Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, another senior defense hawk on the HASC, called the Democrats' ploy "a travesty.”


    "Other people who have jobs don't get to go to work every day and say, 'I'm not going to do my job for weeks ... until you get to the thing that I like.' And that's what the Senate's doing," Turner said. "They're blowing off all of their responsibilities to fund this government."


    But some defense hawks are also starting to grow impatient with their own GOP leaders for not striking an immigration deal sooner that would unlock a funding boost for the Pentagon. Though they largely voted for the previous two CRs, hawks have been loath to support temporary funding for the Pentagon, which they argue erodes military readiness.


    Funding the armed forces through stopgap measures puts the brakes on efforts to fix training and maintenance shortfalls and endangers troops, they contend, pointing to service members who have been killed in sea and aviation accidents.


    Leaders have been able to assuage some hawks by promising more money for the military when they do finally strike a budget deal with Democrats. Ryan is now pushing for a boost of upwards of $700 billion this year, a massive, long-term infusion of cash they feel is needed to build up the military to meet growing worldwide threats.


    But that’s not winning over lawmakers like Graham. He and No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin struck a bipartisan deal last week to address the Dreamer matter, increase border security and make other changes to immigration policy areas that Trump wants modified. But the president panned the plan as a “step backwards,” and immigration hawks like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) dismissed the accord as a non-starter from the “gang of amnesty

    Graham has taken that rejection as a sign of some Republicans’ unwillingness to negotiate in good faith.


    “I am going to be very hard to deal with if we continue to delay funding the Defense Department,” Graham warned this week. “And to think that you can fund the Defense Department without dealing with DACA is pretty naÔve.”


    Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) said Wednesday that he wasn’t sure he could back Ryan’s latest temporary spending measure because of the harm he says it would do to the military. Taylor, a former Navy Seal, encouraged leaders to address DACA last year “so it doesn’t hold up government funding, which is where we are now and it annoys me.”


    Taylor said the blame fell on both sides for not being willing to work together. “There has to be a point — and it needs to be soon — where people have the courage to put politics aside and deal with that issue.” Defense hawks, he continued, may need to hold firm against future temporary spending measures in order to force a compromise.


    “I just don’t logically see [a deal] happening," Taylor said, "until somebody takes a stand.”



    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/...hutdown-345438


    Last edited by GeorgiaPeach; 01-17-2018 at 10:11 PM.
    Jeremiah 29:11 - It is written, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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