When most U.S. Senate Democrats recently joined Republicans to fund the federal government until February 8 with a DACA legislative promise and with CHIP funding for six years, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) was one of 18 Democrats who voted no.

In doing so, he aligned himself with the affluent, high-tax, highly-regulated East Coast and West Coast states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, and Oregon and liberal politicians such as Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

So, who does Tester represent? Once a reliable vote for past short-term spending bills, on this one he balked, saying a short term-budget lends no certainty to the military, border security or rural health clinics.

He voted against CHIP funding — the Children Health Insurance Program that provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In Montana, CHIP helps 24,000 kids. His vote also failed to fund the military.

The federal government’s Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides millions of dollars in grant funding for 17 community health centers in Montana. Montana’s Congressional delegation — Tester, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) — have urged Congress to reauthorize money that covers multiple programs.

DACA immigration is more complex, especially if DREAMers are included.

DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama executive order program started in June 2012 which gave two-year, deferred, “lawfully present” status — but “not a path to legal status” — to qualifying illegal immigrants who came to the US as children.

Since the executive branch can’t legalize anyone, a group of state attorneys general said DACA was unconstitutional and they would sue to overturn it.

Facing this Obama legacy, Trump decided that nobody new will be protected under the program, and that those currently covered will start to lose protection and work permits March 6 — tossing the ball to Congress to deal with DACA and DREAMers.

DACA is different from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act is a Congressional bill proposed several times since 2001 but which has never been passed, which “grants a path to legal status” for qualifying illegal immigrants who came to the US as children.

Since Obama’s DACA conditions cover approximately the same group of people who would have been covered by the Congressional DREAM Act, and “DREAMer” was already in common use, the people who benefited from DACA also are commonly known as DREAMers. However, “DREAMer” pre-dated DACA by many years. 

Some 800,000 persons have signed up for DACA, some of whom are DREAMers. However, the total affected could be 1.8 million.

How will Congress settle this DACA/DREAMer issue?

• Legalization only or a path to citizenship with conditions?

• More border security — wall, agents?

• Ending the foreign entry-permit Visa lottery?

• Ending chain migration that allows relatives U.S. entry?

Will Tester vote for Montana or with East and West Coast states to get liberal reelection donations?

Mary McLaughlin is a Butte homemaker, Montana Tech retiree and chair of the Butte-Silver Bow Republican Central Committee.

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