Colorado’s federal employees and DACA recipients remain in suspense as government shuts down over immigration disagreement

Colorado’s U.S. senators voted along party lines Friday night, surprising no one, as a Republican bill that would have funded the federal government past midnight failed to pass.

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U.S. Rep. Michael Bennet speaks before the march leaves City Park. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet speaks before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade leaves City Park on Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado’s U.S. senators voted along party lines Friday night, surprising no one, as a Republican bill that would have funded the federal government past midnight Eastern time failed to pass. The government has shut down, and both houses of Congress are working this weekend to attempt to find a solution before Monday, when the shutdown would have a greater impact.

The bill needed 60 votes to pass and got 50, spurned by all but five Democrats, many of whom had threatened not to support the bill unless it included protections for young people facing deportation after the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Each Colorado senator had telegraphed his vote on Twitter earlier in the day, with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner tweeting that “shutting down the government is not the solution” and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet declaring that “the government should not be running on continuing resolutions.” There may be significant impacts on Colorado, if legislators don’t work out a deal before Monday. 

The Denver Post looked back to the last such shutdown, in 2013, for an idea of possible impacts of a new shutdown in Colorado. Thousands of workers would likely be furloughed, federal research could be curtailed and other non-essential functions would stop.

Since the end of the fiscal year in September, the government has been operating on temporary funding measures. The most recent one was set to expire at midnight. Republicans and Democrats have not been able to agree on spending levels for the rest of the year, so another short-term measure is the most obvious solution. The House has passed a four-week bill that also extends funding for a children’s health insurance program.

But Democrats have been saying for weeks they want a funding measure to be tied to an immigration deal that protects the thousands of young immigrants facing deportation. DACA is set to expire March 5 after the Trump administration announced it would end the program last year, and members of both parties have been working on an extension that would also beef up border protection.

Some 17,000 Colorado residents arrived in the United States as children and now lack legal status. Denverite has spoken with some of them on multiple occasions as their fates have been debated, tweeted and officially declared.

Bennet and Gardner are among six senators who’ve worked on a bipartisan proposal that would protect those covered under DACA from deportation — and allocate money to border security and end the diversity lottery, according to Colorado Politics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.