On funding and freedom

On funding and freedom

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While Democrats and Republicans squabble over reaching an agreement to raise the debt ceiling in the hopes of funding the government beyond Jan. 19, peoples’ lives are hanging in the balance.

Debt ceiling battles that come down to the 11th hour are nothing new in Washington. As is wont to happen in our nation’s capital, a high-stakes game of chicken is currently underway. Democrats are seeking a resolution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative while the Republicans want additional border security, which will also serve as much-needed political points for President Donald Trump (R), who promised his supporters a secure border during the 2016 campaign.

While political games often have real-life consequences, this time feels different. DACA was meant to be a temporary fix during the Obama administration to answer the complicated question regarding what to do about children brought to the United States by adults coming here illegally. It provided temporary status for approximately 800,000 people — commonly referred to as Dreamers — who fit this description, though a permanent answer to the question is still being sought. The Trump administration rescinded the action in September and, ever since, Dreamers have lived in fear of deportation from a country that has become home. Now, their status is a pawn in a political game of chess.

Similarly, reauthorization of CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — is awaiting a government funding agreement. The service provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In 2016, nearly 9 million children were enrolled in the program, according to www.medicaid.gov. The program covers routine checkups and immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care and emergency services for enrollees. In November 2017, the House passed a five-year reauthorization bill to keep the program running, but it never reached the Senate floor. The health of 9 million children hangs in limbo while politicians try to score points for their home team.

Obviously, for far more reasons than the fate of DACA or CHIP, a compromise needs to be reached in order to keep the government running. Taking a funding battle to the wire is nothing new, but it is shameful that leadership from both parties are allowing these vulnerable members of our society to twist in the wind for months on end along the way.

For Democrats, erecting a border wall, or fence, to appease the president and score him a political win in exchange for a sensible resolution to DACA — and an end to the torturous waiting — would not be the end of the world. For Republicans, do 800,000 people who have contributed to our society need to be uprooted and sent home?

While we wait for both sides to grow up and compromise, families with sick kids and those looking to live the American Dream are likely going through incomprehensibly difficult times. A little compromise and compassion would go a long way.

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