Toomey, Casey split over Trump's DACA deal to end shutdown

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., speaks in April at the York County SPCA. Toomey has joined other senators in co-sponsoring a bill to subject the president’s trade actions to congressional approval.

President Donald Trump is dangling a DACA-extension deal and maintaining his desired $5.7 billion in border wall funding to open the government amid contrasting calls from Pennsylvania senators.

The president's Saturday, Jan. 19, nationally televised speech from the White House continued his fixation on the $5.7 billion figure during the longest U.S. government shutdown ever, now on its 30th day.

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Trump offered a three-year extension of temporary protected status — a measure to aid immigrants fleeing certain embattled countries — and protection for "Dreamers," who are young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children who were allowed to remain under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

If signed into law, the deal would affect roughly 300,000 immigrants under temporary protected status and 700,000 "Dreamers."

"Border security, DACA, TPS, many other things," Trump said. "Straightforward, fair, reasonable and common sense with lots of compromise.”

Trump ordered an end to the DACA program in 2017, but federal courts have mostly blocked him. With current DACA beneficiaries protected by the courts likely into at least 2020, pending a Supreme Court review, the president’s temporary proposal is even less enticing to the Democrats and immigrant advocates, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The president moved to end temporary protected status protection soon after taking office, putting those people, many of whom have lived legally in the U.S. for decades and have children born here, at risk of deportation, the Los Angeles Times reported. In October, a federal judge blocked the administration from ending the protections for many of those people.

Willing to negotiate: Despite Trump's hard-nosed stance on the $5.7 billion number — he also denied a proposal from Vice President Mike Pence earlier this month offering $2.5 billion —  both Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., have offered to go lower.

Both senators voted for previous offers involving $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion for the wall. Still, Toomey voiced his support for Trump's proposal in a news release Saturday.

"President Trump's request for $5.7 billion in border security funding is reasonable and certainly deserved a counter proposal, at the very least," he said. 

The senator went on to criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for her unwillingness to work with the president, echoing comments he made on CNBC last week saying he didn't think opening the government would bring a solution to the shutdown.

"(If we open the government), I don't think we get a solution," Toomey said on the program. "I'd like to get this resolved now. The resolution is obvious: Some sort of compromise, we settle somewhere in the middle."

On the other hand, Casey on Saturday reiterated via Twitter what his spokesman had told The York Dispatch last week, placing his blame upon the president alone.

"President Trump must end the shutdown he created and open the government," he wrote. "Once the government is reopened, Democrats and Republicans can talk about a range of ways to secure the border and reform our immigration system."

Both senators, while proposing different means to the end of reopening the federal government, have been vocal about getting paychecks to federal workers.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., gives a victory speech during his election night party in Scranton, Pa., on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Jake Danna Stevens/The Times-Tribune via AP)

Last week, Toomey laid out his support for legislation to prevent future government shutdowns and get paychecks to the 420,000 federal employees deemed essential during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

“It is time to end government by crisis," Toomey said in a Thursday, Jan. 17, news release. "Every time Congress can’t agree on a funding bill, it’s our constituents and government employees that bear the brunt of Washington’s dysfunction.” 

Supported legislation: The first bill to receive the stamp of approval by Toomey is the Shutdown Fairness Act proposed by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

The bill would authorize the use of funds from the Department of Treasury to pay the roughly 420,000 federal employees deemed essential during the current shutdown as well as possible future shutdowns.

The bill's language doesn't include the 380,000 furloughed employees deemed nonessential, but contractors supporting federal agencies with employees deemed essential would be paid.

The second piece of legislation Toomey cited his support for, the End Government Shutdowns Act proposed by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, aims to implement continuous funding to prevent future shutdowns in totality.

The bill would authorize the funding of federal agencies if an appropriations bill or continuing resolution aren't passed on time. In the case of lapsed funds, agencies would be funded at their current levels for 90 days. 

Following that period, discretionary spending would be decreased by 1 percent every 90 days if agreements still haven't been reached. The measure would apply to all appropriations lapses moving forward.

The bill — although with less severe spending reduction consequences — is similar to legislation that Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster and York counties, introduced Wednesday, Jan. 17.

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A spokesman for Casey said the bills cited by Toomey "have merit and are worth considering" but maintained the Democrat's position of putting Trump in the spotlight as the catalyst for the shutdown.

Like Toomey, Smucker released a statement following Saturday's address in support of Trump's offer, saying "he is being reasonable."

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.