These 16 Democrats voted against reopening the government without protections for DREAMers

Six of them previously told ThinkProgress they would not support any legislation that bypassed protections for DREAMers.


Early Monday afternoon, the Senate voted 81-18 in favor of reopening the government with a short-term spending bill, following a failed vote on Friday evening that effectively shut it down. Among the 18 senators who voted “no” were 16 Democrats, six of whom previously told ThinkProgress they would reject any continuing resolution that did not include protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The resolution is set to expire on February 8, at which point the government will once again run out of operating funds. That means Congress has three weeks to come up with a permanent fix for DACA.

DACA, established in 2012 by President Barack Obama, protects nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. President Donald Trump rescinded the policy last fall, amid heavy criticism. Already, approximately 122 immigrants lose their DACA status each day; on March 8, current protections are set to expire for good, leaving hundreds of thousands vulnerable to deportation.

Democrats have been fighting for a permanent DACA fix since Trump terminated the program in September. In December, several senators voted no on a continuing resolution to continue funding the government because it did not include protections for DACA recipients. The legislation passed anyway.


Monday’s result hinged on a deal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who promised Democrats that he would hold a vote on immigration legislation to protect DACA recipients, in exchange for a favorable vote on the spending bill.

“The Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, speaking from on the Senate floor on Monday. “The Republican majority now has 17 days to prevent the DREAMers from being deported.”

Not everyone was pleased with the move. In the aftermath of Monday’s vote, several Democrats issued statements criticizing the McConnell-Schumer deal, with many concerned that the former would renege on his promise.

Several of the 16 Democrats who voted no on Monday have previously said they would reject any legislation without DACA protections; six of them reiterated those sentiments recently, in statements to ThinkProgress (you can find those here).


Here’s what each of the 16 “no” votes had to say (those who previously spoke with ThinkProgress are designated with an asterisk):

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) *

Blumenthal’s office previously told ThinkProgress that he would not vote for any legislation that did not contain a fix for DACA. On Monday, he followed through on that pledge and voted no on the continuing resolution.

“Republicans could have taken the bipartisan approach Americans want and deserve. Instead, they’re using kids’ healthcare as a bargaining chip, leaving #Dreamers in limbo, and pushing us toward a #TrumpShutdown,” he tweeted over the weekend. “This is what failed leadership looks like.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

“Nothing in this legislation gives me any confidence that in three weeks Congress won’t end up exactly where we are today,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who voted “no,” said in a statement on Monday. “I would have much preferred a two-day, three-day or even week-long extension that forced Democrats and Republicans to stay in Washington and negotiate a long-term agreement that fully funds our military, invests in our domestic priorities, protects the 800,000 Dreamers from the imminent threat of deportation and provides them a path to citizenship.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Booker, whose office did not respond to earlier requests for comment on the vote, outlined his reasoning for voting “no” on Monday, despite a majority of Democrats voting in favor of the resolution.


“The way to end the Trump Shutdown and solve issues that Republican leaders have been ignoring for months was to take up a bipartisan proposal on the table that Democrats, Republicans, most Americans, and the large majority of Congress supports,” he stated. “That wasn’t the plan voted on today.”

He added that he had “made a commitment a long time ago” not to vote for legislation that did not contain a solution for DACA. “My position hasn’t changed,” he said.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

On Monday, Cortez Masto, a longtime advocate of DREAMers — immigrants brought to the United States as children, including all those not included under the DACA program — voted against the continuing resolution to fund the government. In a statement after the fact, she argued that Trump had created the “manufactured crisis” currently threatening immigrants and cast doubt on McConnell’s promise to hold a vote on DACA protections.

“President Trump and Senator McConnell… chose to hold Americans hostage and shutdown the government,” she said. “Senator McConnell has consistently proven that his word cannot be counted on. Dreamers cannot wait. Now, it’s more important than ever to keep pressure on Leader McConnell to pass the Dream Act. We must fight like hell to make sure that Senator McConnell keeps his promise.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Feinstein, who faced pressure by activists in December to vote “no” on the last continuing resolution, voted no on Monday as well, explaining in a statement that the most recent shutdown would have been avoidable if Republicans had worked with Democrats on a DACA fix.

“For four months Republicans have promised a vote on the Dream Act. And for four months, they’ve kicked the can down the road,” she said. “Closing the government isn’t something I take lightly. But we’ve been debating the Dream Act for almost 20 years now, with constant opposition from Republicans. The solution is simple: allow a vote on the Dream Act as an amendment to a must-pass vehicle or lock in an iron-clad agreement that the Democratic caucus agrees with that would pass in the shortest time possible.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

In a series of tweets on Monday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who earlier to declined comment on the vote, excoriated Republicans and Democrats alike for failing DREAMers.

“I am deeply disappointed that today’s outcome fails to protect Dreamers. They deserve better from the elected leaders of the only country many of them have ever called home,” she tweeted. “I want to see the government re-open as much as anyone, but this bill fails to fix the moral issue we must solve. That’s why I voted against it.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) *

Following her “no” vote on Monday, Harris, whose spokesperson told ThinkProgress earlier this month that she she “wouldn’t back any end-of-year spending bill unless DACA was addressed,” reiterated the need for an immigration fix.

“The Majority Leader’s comments fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill. I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word,” she tweeted.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) 

Hirono has previously pledged her support for DREAMers on social media. On Monday, she followed through on that promise by voting “no” on the continuing resolution that re-opened the government.

“Donald Trump is a changeling. He is incapable of being consistent,” she said on the Senate floor hours prior to the vote, referring to Trump’s sudden reversal on his earlier pledge to sign any bipartisan immigration bill that Congress sent him. “This is Donald Trump’s shutdown.”

In a separate statement, Hirono added, “Republicans are in charge of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. They are in charge of setting the time table and the agenda, and now they’re blaming the Democrats for their own misplaced priorities.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

In a statement on Monday, defending his “no” vote on the continuing resolution, Leahy said he was “relieved” the government shutdown had ended but disappointed that Republicans had not addressed the DACA crisis.

“Republican leaders and President Trump have left too much undone – from a bipartisan budget deal, to disaster relief, to community health centers, to the opioid crisis, to DACA,” he said. “There are many pressing and unfinished priorities, and I cannot give my support to yet another short-term, stopgap measure that, yet again, keeps budget priorities on autopilot, without the ability to adjust for changing priorities since these budget levels were frozen a year ago.”

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

Markey, who voted “no” this week, issued a series of tweets explaining his decision, in which he expressed doubt in any short-term solutions.

“I cannot support a budget deal that falls so far short of fulfilling our moral and Constitutional obligation to the American people,” he wrote. “I remain deeply skeptical of any short-term budget agreement that relies on the good faith commitment of [President Trump]. A budgetary vision without funding is a hallucination. The futures and families of #Dreamers will not be assured by a promise from Republican leadership. We need a long-term budget proposal that includes real protections for our Dreamers, not a short-term IOU.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) *

A spokesperson for Sen. Merkley told ThinkProgress earlier this month that his previous decision not to vote for any spending legislation that did not include a DACA fix “still stands.” On Monday, Merkley followed through on that pledge and voted “no” on the continuing resolution.

“We all need to keep fighting,” he tweeted. “We need YOUR grassroots power to win the second round. I won’t give up until #DREAMers – who have grown up in America and make immense contributions – can keep contributing to the nation they love. RT if you’re with me in this fight: #DREAMActNow!”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Murphy, who voted “no” this week, tweeted on Monday that he had done so because the continuing resolution was both bad for his state but also included no protections for DREAMers.

“I voted NO on the continuing resolution today because it’s bad for Connecticut,” he wrote. “Health centers run out of money, Dreamers still in crisis. Less work for our defense contractors. Bad bill for our state.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) *

Of all the senators in the Democratic caucus, Sanders has been the most hardline when it comes to DACA. In early January, a representative from the Vermont senator’s office told ThinkProgress that Sanders was a resolute “no” on any spending legislation that did not include a DACA fix.

Monday, Sanders offered a similarly passionate explanation for his “no” vote on the latest continuing resolution.

“The reason I voted against today’s continuing resolution is simple: tens of millions of lives are at stake. We must act NOW, not kick the can down the road,” he tweeted. “We’re talking about the fate of 800,000 Dreamers who have lived here almost all of their lives, but could soon be faced with deportation if we don’t act now… Enough is enough. The Republican Party controls the House, Senate and White House. They have got to govern, not ignore the major crises facing this country.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)

Speaking with reporters Monday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester dodged when asked to explain his “no” vote on the continuing resolution.

“I didn’t vote for this because it’s a bad deal for Montana,” he said, according to Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram. “It was never about DACA. It’s about making sure a budget goes on for a fiscal year making sure we have money for rural hospitals.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) *

A spokesperson from Warren’s office told ThinkProgress earlier in January that she “will not vote on a spending bill without a clean Dream Act.” Monday afternoon, Warren kept her word, casting a resounding “no” vote.

“It’s been over 100 days since protection for 800k Dreamers ended, since community health centers were funded, since hurricanes ravaged TX, FL & PR,” she tweeted. “The Republicans refused to fix any of these issues– and they still haven’t fixed them. We don’t need new promises. We need new laws.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) *

Wyden, who also voted “no” on Monday, previously directed ThinkProgress to earlier promises he had made, pledging not to support spending legislation that did not contain DACA protections.

In a statement prior to his initial shutdown vote on Friday, Wyden added, “In the face of a cruel and arbitrary deadline forced by the Trump administration, Dreamers in Oregon and across the country continue to show courage in their passion for the United States. I will vote against this spending deal because it fails to permanently protect Dreamers and does not honor the brave contributions these young Americans are making to our country every day.”

FLIPPED: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Duckworth’s representatives, when speaking with ThinkProgress, initially gave the impression that she might vote “no” on Monday’s continuing resolution. However, on Monday, the Illinois senator cast a “yes” vote, justifying her decision in a statement later.

“This is not an ideal outcome,” she said, “but I voted yes today because I believe this agreement will give those of us in the middle—including the 12 Senate Republicans who are taking a stand against the President’s extremist hard line—the time we need not just to find a deal that protects Dreamers, but one that also provides the full-year certainty our military is asking for, provides critical resources for our Veterans, funds community health centers and fulfills our promise to millions of pensioners in Illinois.”