Los Angeles Times
By Sarah D. Wire
December 21, 2017
Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she will not back must-pass spending bill without fixes for 'Dreamers' and children's healthcare
In a surprising reversal, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced Thursday that she will not vote for an end-of-year spending bill that does not include protections for people brought to the country illegally as children as well as funding for a children’s health insurance program.
“It’s absolutely unconscionable that Republicans are leaving these items out of their bill to fund the government,” she said in a statement Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Democrat said she would vote for the bill, which must be passed in order to keep the government open past Friday.
Feinstein’s reversal is largely symbolic because the Senate likely still has enough Democratic votes to pass a temporary spending bill and push off a deal for so-called Dreamers until the new year.
Feinstein had been facing pressure from advocates and one of her 2018 opponents for refusing to block the bill if it didn’t include protections for Dreamers, who had benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump ended in September. About a quarter of the nearly 800,000 so-called Dreamers live in California, and almost 2 million California children and pregnant women use the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which the state government says is expected to run out of money next month.
“I’ve talked with them, I’ve met with them, I understand their plight and it breaks my heart. In California, 200,000 DACA youth are living in fear. The government knows where they live, where they study and where they work, and unless Congress acts, they know the government can show up at any moment and deport them,” Feinstein said.
Protesters had flooded Feinstein’s California and Washington offices in recent days.
Some on the left in California have questioned whether Feinstein is too moderate for a state that feels it’s under attack by the new administration. Her most prominent 2018 opponent, Democratic state Senate leader Kevin de León, has tried to capitalize on her reluctance to block the spending bill.
An Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley poll released Thursday found Feinstein leading De León 41% to 27% among likely voters, with 32% of respondents saying they were undecided or would support another candidate. House Democrats who have pushed to block the spending bill in order to get a deal for Dreamers by the end of the year praised Feinstein.
Rep. Nanette Barragán of San Pedro, whose cousin is among the Dreamers anxiously waiting a resolution, said she spoke twice with Feinstein on Thursday morning.
“It was a really good conversation, and to see her take a stand and say “I’m with you guys’… is great to see,” Barragán said.
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairwoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) said she’s glad Feinstein took a stand.
“It sends a powerful message, and it shows that we can be even more unified on holding the line on Dreamers and the [spending bill],” she said.
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