House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Democrats want legislation to address the legal status of hundreds of thousands of people brought to the country illegally as children before the end of the year, but stopped short of saying she'd block a spending bill to keep the government open if it doesn't happen.
“I’ll have to see what the spending bill is,” Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said. “But I fully intend that we will not leave here without the Dream Act passing, with a DACA fix, and I’ve made that very clear.”
President Trump announced in September he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gave Congress until March to come up with a legislative fix for recipients. The Dream Act is the Democrats' preferred fix, and it has multiple Republican co-sponsors.
“We're not kicking the can down to March,” Pelosi said.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) suggested in a separate news conference Thursday that Republicans don't feel the need to rush.
“I don't think there's really any need to have artificial deadlines within the one we already have,” Ryan said.
He said Republicans would rather see the fix pass “on its own merits” rather than as part of a spending bill.
Senate Republicans have said that Trump doesn't want the DACA fix in the spending bill either.
But House Republicans may need Democratic support to pass the spending bill, especially if the more conservative wing of the party refuses to vote for it, as it has repeatedly in recent years. That potentially gives Pelosi leverage to demand the inclusion of a DACA fix, which some in her caucus, including several Californians, support.