WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday it would be “ridiculous” for a fight with Democrats over immigration issues to result in a standoff over a year-end spending bill and prompt a shutdown of the federal government.
“There’s not going to be a government shutdown,” McConnell told ABC’s “This Week” program. “It’s just not going to happen.”
As tensions rise between the two parties over the spending bill, McConnell called the Democrats’ position “untenable,” saying Congress has until March to address the status of so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
With funding for the federal government due to run out on Friday, Republican leaders need to put together the votes for a spending bill.
But Democrats have said they will insist on protections for Dreamers as the price of their support for a spending bill, setting the stage for a potential showdown.
“That’s a ridiculous position,” McConnell told ABC.
Although Republicans control both chambers of the U.S. Congress, at least some Democratic votes will be needed to pass the spending bill.
In September, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which shields young illegal immigrants from deportation. He gave Congress six months to find a solution.
“I don’t think that Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address anytime between now and March,” McConnell said. “That’s a very untenable position.”
Trump and Republican leaders want measures strengthening border enforcement to accompany any relief for the Dreamers, a stance Democrats reject.
McConnell said he was also optimistic that House and Senate Republicans could agree on unified tax legislation to send to President Donald Trump after the Senate approved its own bill on Saturday.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Caren Bohan and Lisa Von Ahn