Vice President Pence said Thursday afternoon that congressional Democrats need to “set politics aside” and vote for a short-term spending bill so government can avoid shutting down. He promised that a key sticking point in negotiations — finding a solution for “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — can then be addressed “in the days ahead.”
“We think those discussions will continue to go forward; we’ll continue to work toward resolving those issues,” Pence said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “President Trump and I feel very strongly that it’s absolutely imperative that the Congress come together, set politics aside, fund the government, fund our military. And we’re going to be working very earnestly in the next 36 hours to make sure that happens.”
Democrats have been holding out in hopes of shielding hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were once protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which granted temporary work visas to some of those who were brought to the country as children. Pence made clear that the White House is not willing to budge on what it wants in exchange for reaching a compromise with Democrats on this issue: funding for a wall along the border, ending “chain migration” that allows U.S. citizens and green-card holders to bring relatives to the country and ending the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that grants visas to those who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Pence said that he and the president remain “hopeful” that Congress will approve a short-term spending bill before the Friday night deadline.
Pence accused members of Congress who don’t support this bill of putting politics ahead of the military, which would be affected by a shutdown — a popular talking point for Republicans this week. Earlier on Thursday, Pence and Trump attended a meeting at the Pentagon, where they were briefed on some of the potential impacts of a shutdown, including that more than 2 million members of the military, including those working in war zones, would not be paid until the shutdown ended.
“At a time when we have U.S. soldiers in harm’s way in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Pence said, “it would be unconscionable for Democrats in Congress to jeopardize funding for our military because some refuse to fund a border wall or reform immigration.”