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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Responds to Senate’s Failure to Pass DACA Legislation

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch Feb. 15 released a statement stating “It is incredibly disheartening that the Senate failed this week to come to an agreement that would provide a permanent legislative remedy for individuals with [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)] status.

    In the statement, Dr. Kirch continues, “As college students look toward medical school, and medical students prepare for their residency training, unless Congress acts, those with DACA status could be prevented from completing the necessary requirements to fulfill their lifelong goal of pursuing medicine or science. At the same time, patients in underserved communities could be denied the care they deserve since Dreamers are more likely to practice in those areas.”

    The Senate Feb. 15 held votes on three measures that would have permanently retained the DACA program. Earlier in the day, the AAMC joined 24 higher education organizations in a letter to Senate leadership in support of two bipartisan proposals: one offered by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), and another by a group that included Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

    All of the proposals failed to secure the necessary 60 votes to send the legislation to the House for consideration, including a GOP measure introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and endorsed by President Trump, which received the fewest votes in favor (39 to 60).

    The White House Feb. 16 released a statement that blamed Democrats for the failure and endorsed the proposal from House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas), which is considered more conservative than the Grassley measure.

    DACA was set to expire March 5 by a Sept. 5 Executive Action [See Washington Highlights, Sept. 4, 2017], but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue to process renewal applications due to preliminary injunctions issued by federal courts on Jan. 9, 2018, and Feb. 13, 2018. The Supreme Court is expected to meet Feb. 16 to decide whether to take up those DACA cases. 

    The AAMC led 60 health organizations in a Dec. 13 letter urging Congress to act as soon as possible [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 15, 2018].