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Shaheen, Hassan Won't Hold Up Budget for DACA

Allegra Boverman for NHPR
Sen. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, participate in a live forum Monday on The Exchange with Laura Knoy.

Both New Hampshire’s U.S. senators said Monday they will not hold up a budget deal as leverage for immigration reform.


President Donald Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - or DACA - last year.  The program protected tens of thousands of kids who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump gave Congress until March to find a fix, but so far, it hasn’t been resolved.

With a possible government shutdown now looming, some lawmakers have pledged to vote against a budget deal unless it contains protections for young immigrants. 

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan said on NHPR's The Exchange Monday that they both disagreed with that tactic.

"I personally don’t think drawing lines in the sand is a helpful or constructive thing," Hassan said. "Shutting down the government impacts lots and lots of people." 

Both New Hampshire senators said while they support keeping so-called Dreamers in the country, shutting down the government isn’t in anyone’s interest.

Shaheen and Hassan dropped by the NHPR studios on their way back to Washington, D.C.. The two Democrats also discussed foreign affairs, health care, the new tax bill, and the opioid crisis. Both senators criticized Trump for his style of diplomacy with North Korea - especially through his Twitter account.

Last week, Trump taunted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a tweet about the size and power of nuclear weapons at his disposal.

Shaheen serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

"It's very frightening what's happening right now, and what is not helpful is to have the President tweeting back at Kim Jong Un. We need consistent, stable policy that the administration is all on the same page on," Shaheen said.

Shaheen said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing drills about how to respond to a nuclear attack -- a move she said isn’t a positive step forward, but is "realistic."

Hassan continued to call Trump "unfit to serve," because of his behavior, rhetoric and policies.  
"Having said that, this is not a president who has shown any interest in what I think and he's not going to resign," Hassan said, adding that she instead will focus on bipartisanship and holding Trump accountable.

Shaheen shared a list of criticisms of Trump, though didn't go as far as her Democratic counterpart. When asked if she saw Trump as unfit to serve, she responded "the American people elected him," adding that Trump wasn’t the kind of president she had hoped would lead the country.



Lauren is a Senior Reporter/Producer for NHPR's narrative news unit, Document.

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