Democratic Colorado lawmakers skewer colleagues for holiday break without fixing DACA, CHIP

December 27, 2017, 7:01 am

Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat who represents part of Colorado ski country in Congress, scolded his colleagues for “skipping town” for the holiday break without dealing with two critical issues impacting children’s health and young immigrants brought to this country by their parents but now facing deportation.

michael bennet

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet

The House of Representatives passed a short-term budget by a vote of 231-188, extending government funding until Jan. 19. Thirteen Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans, and 16 Republicans went the other way. The Senate then passed the spending bill 66-32.

“Congress skipped town before passing a long-term budget or finding a solution for dreamers who rely on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — or for the children and pregnant women who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” Polis said in a prepared statement.

“I thought we all learned in grade school that there’s no recess before finishing our work. Congress should have stayed in session instead of creating a new potential government shutdown in January,” added Polis, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for governor in 2018.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder

The CHIP program, which Colorado relies on to insure certain children and pregnant women, has been in place for 20 years but was allowed to expire last fall by the Republican-controlled Congress. The spending bill contained a short-term funding fix, but those funds may not reach some states in time.

Colorado had been using stop-gap funding for the program but was about to run out of money at the end of January.

Gov. John Hickenlooper urged the state legislature to step in to fund the program temporarily while Congress worked on long-term funding for the program. State lawmakers did that on Thursday.

“Appreciate Joint Budget Committee approving emergency funding to extend CO Child Health Plan Plus program through Feb,” Hickenlooper tweeted Thursday. “This is just a first step! Time for Congress to act & renew funding for  to keep children & pregnant women insured. 

In the U.S. Senate, Democrat Michael Bennet also voted against the spending bill, insisting Congress deal with CHIP and DACA.

“Tonight I voted against the temporary government funding bill,” Bennet tweeted. “We should stay here and finish our work to protect  and fund , rather than abdicating our responsibility and leaving so many Coloradan families in the lurch.”

The Trump administration opted not to uphold DACA this fall, instead allowing nearly 800,000 young immigrants who registered with a federal program put in place in 2012 to swing in the proverbial wind as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents around the nation step up detention and deportation efforts.

DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, were issued work permits and allowed to study in the United States if they passed background checks and stayed out of trouble with the law.  President Donald Trump had promised to show them compassion — recognizing they knew no other country and were brought here illegally by their parents at a very young age — but has since allowed the Dreamers to remain in limbo.

Democrats wanted Congress to permanently codify the program into law before approving a spending measure that allows for stepped up immigration enforcement, but now that issue has been once again delayed until January, making for a very nervous Christmas for thousands of young immigrants.

Bennet decried the Senate’s failure to vote on the Dream Act he co-sponsored with Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to give DACA recipients permanent protections.

Bennet also blasted Trump and Republicans for passing what he deemed a massive tax cut for the richest Americans while allowing the poorest and most vulnerable to suffer healthcare and immigration challenges.
“Republicans are celebrating a hollow political “win.” Meanwhile… 9 million kids are waiting for health care funding,” Bennet tweeted. “Dreamers are waiting for protections. And middle-class families in Colorado are STILL waiting for real, lasting tax relief.”
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David O. Williams
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington),, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of and

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