WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga says Democratic leadership has made a mistaken calculation that a dispute over the DACA immigration policy is “worth shutting the government over.”
The Second District Republican spoke to FOX 17 on Saturday night, less than 24 hours after funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight. Democrats have demanded that any legislation on short-term spending must provide protections for “Dreamers” – 690,000 young, undocumented immigrants. But many Republicans are resolute that Democrats must give the necessary votes to reopen the government before talks can resume on DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that will otherwise expire soon. “The irony,” says Huizenga, “is if we’re going to tackle DACA and other things, this is actually making it harder to get to it, not easier.”
Said Huizenga of the finger-pointing between political leaders: “It’s disappointing, you know.
“It’s frustrating. The house back in October passed a stand-alone CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) authorization bill that was for five years. We’ve passed all of our spending bills back in September, and that was four months ago. And the Senate has not been able to move forward.”
Huizenga notes that CHIP is expiring, as well. And he says the U.S. military will be losing money, putting “our men and women in uniform in a vulnerable spot.”
Although he holds out some hope the matter can be resolved before too long, Huizenga says the shutdown battle could prove longer than the 16-day shutdown in October 2013.
As for the potential length of a short-term funding extension, Huizenga says: “We had a four-week timeframe. There’s discussion of it being a three-week timeframe. Whatever it might be, ultimately we’ve got to remain diligent, know that we have to tackle these issues.”
FOX 17’s Ahtra Elnashar interviewed Rep. Huizenga for this report.