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Government on Track to Reopen, But for How Long? A Deal on DACA Will Be Key

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Senators broke a logjam on Monday by clearing the way for a final vote on a bill to restore funding to the federal government until Feb. 8 and end a partial shutdown that began just after midnight Friday. The continuing resolution will allow the U.S. Department of Education, where about nine in 10 employees were furloughed as of Monday morning, to reopen at full capacity.

However, the underlying issues behind the shutdown, specifically the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for those brought to the country illegally as minors, haven't been resolved. In order to earn Democratic support for the continuing resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it is his intention to hold a vote on a bill that addresses DACA, border security, and other issues by Feb. 8. So thousands of students and teachers who have DACA protections will have to wait at least a little longer to learn their fate.

Late last week, Democrats in the Senate refused to vote for the continuing resolution because it did not include a deal to enshrine DACA into federal law in some fashion, leading to the shutdown at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. But enough Democrats agreed to a vote on the resolution Monday to put the government back on track to reopen. 

The partial government shutdown had a minimal impact on the Education Department and schools, especially since the shutdown covered only the previous weekend and into Monday. 

The continuing resolution does include a six-year extension for the Children's Health Insurance Program. Federal authorization for CHIP expired Sept. 30, and Democratic lawmakers had pressed for Republicans to agree to extend the program. 

House lawmakers passed the three-week continuing resolution last week. However, it remains unclear if President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan will go along with McConnell's stated purpose of holding a vote on an immigration package that covers DACA.

Congress still does not have a final spending deal in place for fiscal 2018. The Trump administration is supposed to issue its fiscal 2019 spending proposal early next month. 

Photo: Demonstrators rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) during a rally outside of the Capitol on Jan. 21 in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)


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