Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Reuters / Aaron P. Bernstein
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Reuters / Aaron P Bernstein

The US Senate leadership reportedly does not have votes to push through a bill to temporarily fund the federal government, as Democrats look poised to follow through on threats to oppose any bill that doesn’t address the status of illegal immigrants who arrived as children.

“They’re prepared to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted by the Hill as saying of Democratic lawmakers. “Where is the urgency here?” McConnell asked, after noting that Congress has until March 5 to decide the fate of the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.”

Following President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which offered legal protections to the dreamers, Democratic lawmakers indicated that they would seek to tie the issue to a vote on funding the government.

While a group of Republicans led by Senator Lindsay Graham had sought to broker a deal on DACA, talks on the proposed legislation fell apart amid squabbling over whether or not the president had made racist comments during a meeting with lawmakers.

With no compromise on DACA still on the table, some Republicans expect a potential shutdown to work in their favor.

“Look at this objectively: Democrats are proposing to shut down essential services for Americans to provide citizenship for those who are not,” McConnel’s former chief of staff John Holmes tweeted.

Though Senator Orrin Hatch lamented that Republicans would likely be blamed. “We always do, even though it’s their fault,” Hatch said.

Should Congress fail to pass a funding provision before midnight on Friday, all “non-essential” federal government functions would be shut down until funding is approved. Military and law enforcement operations would continue.

The last government shutdown occurred in 2013, lasting 17 days.