Garcia calls Trump shutdown deal ‘a sham,' urges vote
Sens. Duckworth, Durbin warn that 2.2 million in HUD programs face eviction
By Ted Cox
A freshman congressman blasted President Trump’s proposed deal to end the federal government shutdown as a “sham” over the weekend.
After the president suggested on Saturday swapping a $5.7 billion permanent wall on the Mexican border for a three-year extension of the “Dreamer” program providing relief for undocumented immigrants who’ve grown up in the United States, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia labeled it “a sham,” saying, “It fails to bring 800,000 public employees back to work, and it fails to address permanent solutions” in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and another providing Temporary Protected Status to undocumented immigrants.
“Trump insists on holding Americans hostage to the idea of a wall that people don’t want,” said the Chicago congressman in a statement issued immediately Trump’s televised address to the nation on Saturday.
Trump insisted in December that he would “own” it if Republicans imposed a partial government shutdown, which they did, but he has been trying to pass blame to Democrats ever since. The shutdown is now closing in on a full month — a U.S. record — with 800,000 federal employees either furloughed or working without pay, and many government programs left without funding.
In addition, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin joined other members of Congress in warning the shutdown could have an immediate impact on renters in federal housing programs. The Illinois senators issued a joint statement saying: “The longer we extend the shutdown, the more harm will be done to seniors, families with children, people with disabilities, and other Americans who rely on these programs. We urge you to end this shutdown and provide immediate relief to Americans being impacted by this funding crisis. In these times of uncertainty and tension, we must continue to prioritize the American people. We owe it to the people we serve to choose their best interest over politics.”
Duckworth and Durbin joined congressional colleagues in sending a letter to the president last week. According to the letter: “The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been forced to scramble to find funds to renew federal contracts for over 1,100 project-based rental assistance properties, housing tens of thousands of low-income renters, that have expired since the government shutdown began. Additional contracts will expire later in January and February, should the shutdown continue, as HUD does not have funding to renew contracts while the government is shut down.”
The letter states that HUD has suggested “that private owners use their individual funding reserves, where available, to cover shortfalls (but) the longer the shutdown continues, the more untenable this guidance becomes.”
Illinois congressional Democrats warned at a rally in Chicago on Friday that renters in federal housing assistance programs could face eviction as early as the first week of February.
The shutdown began over Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for the southern border wall. The fate of so-called Dreamers — an estimated 700,000 U.S. residents who’ve grown up in United States after being brought here by undocumented immigrants — was not part of those negotiations, but Trump threw it into the deal with his proposal Saturday after previously being resistant to any compromise on DACA.
Durbin and Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have co-sponsored the Dream Act providing a path to citizenship for those residents, but Trump has resisted a permanent solution — and did not offer one as part of his deal to end the shutdown over the weekend.
Trump attempted to halt the DACA program in 2017, and has rejected previous deals tying wall funding to a DACA resolution, but federal courts have ordered the government to continue to administer it.
Garcia pointed out the U.S. House of Representatives has passed several funding bills to reopen the government since Democrats took control with the new year, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has refused to allow a vote on them.
“President Trump’s resistance to reopen the government has put our communities, our federal workers, and our economy at peril,” Garcia said. “President Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell need to do their job and reopen the government.”