President Donald Trump is preparing for a meeting on Tuesday with congressional leadership with the hope they have a “come to Jesus” moment on a spending bill that would determine next year’s budget. But Republicans in both chambers are already preparing to resist any increase in spending from Democrats, FOX Business has learned.
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Going into a pivotal week for Congress, Democrats have indicated they are prepared to go down the path of most resistance, as leadership within their party get set to push for continued protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants, also known as Dreamers, more spending on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as continued funding for community health centers, according to congressional aides familiar with the matter.
Republican lawmakers, however, have other ideas and are already giving a visceral reaction to the Democrats’ goals of increasing spending in 2018, leaving open the possibility that Congress could miss the Dec. 8 deadline and begin a government shutdown before Christmas.
Alexei Woltornist, spokesman for the House Republican Study Committee, a caucus of over 150 conservative House Republicans and chaired by Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), told FOX Business that the group would not be in support of the Democrats’ goals, specifically their hope to continue former President Obama’s DACA program, which protects young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, eventually becoming eligible for a work permit.
“The problem with the Dreamers is we need to make sure we aren’t in the same position we are in a few years from now. We need to come up with solutions including border enforcement and ending sanctuary cities,” Woltornist said.
When Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) was told about the Democrats’ demands and asked if he thinks a budget bill with those legislative items would pass, he replied bluntly via text message to FOX Business: “It sounds like they’re the Dreamers. It’s hard to think [the budget] would [pass].”
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Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) gave FOX Business insight into the budget negotiations, explaining that more border security, a compromise on ObamaCare cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments, a debate on defense spending levels and CHIP funding are all on the docket for Congress when they return from their Thanksgiving break. He insisted, though, that it looks like the final spending agreement is going to be “very big and ugly.”
CHIP provides health insurance to eligible children from low-income families either through Medicaid or separate CHIP programs, which is funded by the states and the federal government. If Congress cannot come to an agreement on funding the program, it could leave millions of children without insurance, including those living in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and the District of Columbia who run of out of CHIP funding by Dec. 31, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Children and Families. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal includes cutting billions from CHIP over two years and limiting eligibility for federal matching funds.
The path for the Senate doesn’t look much easier for passing a budget by the December deadline. Conn Carroll, a spokesman for conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), told FOX Business his boss would follow House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) lead on not renewing the DACA program, calling it a form of amnesty.
“Ryan and McConnell have both said no amnesty in the budget proposal. We agree. That is their position and ours,” Carroll said.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also seemed skeptical about passing a budget bill that reflected a heavy increase in spending when he tweeted on Nov. 16: “We’re $20 trillion in debt and it’s a party like there’s no tomorrow time in Washington.”
A spokesman for McConnell, David Popp, declined to comment on the negotiations except to say, “The Leader consistently says there will not be a government shutdown.”
A spokeswoman for Ryan did not return emails for comment when asked for an update on where things stand on the budget.
Spokesmen for House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also did not return emails for comment.
For Pelosi and Schumer, they brought their fight to protect Dreamers to a dinner with Trump at the White House in September and claimed they and the president agreed to “support enshrining DACA protections into law, and encourage the House and Senate to act,” according to a press release.
In that same press release, they gave a preview on the border security debate that could lead to a battle within Congress and force the government to shut down.
“What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible. While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the president made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it,” Schumer and Pelosi then said.
The meeting on Tuesday between lawmakers from both sides of aisle and the president was confirmed by sources who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity.