House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) launched a rarely-attempted House of Representatives filibuster style Hail Mary Wednesday morning, and after 5 hours she’s shown no signs of slowing down.
The California Democrat, who made history in 2006 when she became the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House in 2007, took the House floor in a desperate, last-ditch effort to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program President Obama enacted that provides hundreds of thousands of immigrants a layer of legal legitimacy and protection from deportation.
Their fate has been a massive political football in recent weeks, as Democrats have demanded that a deal on DREAMers be included as part of any legislation to fund the government for the next fiscal year. That demand forced a brief government shut down before Democrats allowed a temporary three-week extension to continue working on a solution for DACA.
Those three weeks are up Thursday night – tomorrow – and all dreams of a deal were dashed Wednesday morning when news broke that Rep. Pelosi’s counterpart in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced he had agreed to a two year deal to fund the government that didn’t include any resolution for DREAMers.
That surrender must have compelled Rep. Pelosi to take the desperate measure. Using a little employed unlimited “magic minute” afforded only to party leaders in the House, she took the floor and began telling stories about DREAMers whose protections under DACA are set to expire next month if no deal is reached by Congress and the White House. As we write this, Rep. Pelosi is approaching her sixth hour, and her Chief of Staff, Drew Hammill, told USA Today, “it was unclear how long Pelosi would go on for, but she had water to keep her hydrated.”
President Trump has said on many occasions, both during the campaign and since his inauguration, that he wanted to extend the DACA program, or at least provide a different but comparable level of protection that would allow them to stay in the United States, the only home most of them have ever known. He’s even offered to agree to a path to citizenship in recent weeks for up to 1.8 million otherwise undocumented immigrants, though most agree that’s nothing but a poison pill that Republicans would be forced to oppose.
Over a year into office, however, he’s shown no other tangible signs that he intends to follow through on that pledge. He’s even shot down bipartisan attempts to save the DACA immigrants during recent budget negotiations.
Pelosi’s effort, though valiant, has no clear legislative path to a breakthrough on DACA. It does, however, show that she’s determined to go down fighting until the bitter end.