Jimmy Kimmel Asks Lawmakers To Stop 'Using Kids' Lives As Bargaining Chips'

Should CHIP's funding be tied to the short-term spending bill?

Months after first speaking out against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is once again taking part in a health care debate, only this time he's advocating on behalf of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that has lacked long-term funding authorization since October and will soon run out of money.

On Jan. 17, Kimmel began tweeting with Doug Andres, the press secretary for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, after Andres bated Kimmel by retweeting a tweet saying it would be "interesting" to see how many Democrats voted against a short-term funding bill that could include CHIP, given their overwhelming desire to renew the insurance that protects nine million American children.

Kimmel responded by claiming that lawmakers have made CHIP into a "bargaining chip," and are "tying our children's lives to immigration" by choosing to fund it as a part of a larger, more controversial bill.

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Last night, House Republicans successfully passed a short-term spending bill, a stopgap measure intended to keep the government open. Included in the bill is a provision to fund CHIP for 6 years.

Whether the bill will pass in the Senate, however, is still an open question. Many Democrats have said they will not vote for a spending bill that fails to find a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, set to expire in March, which the House bill does not.

In a follow-up tweet to Andres, Kimmel noted that both CHIP and a path to citizenship for young immigrants enjoy majority bipartisan support, and reiterated his stance that forcing lawmakers to choose to between them amounts to turning kids into bargaining chips.

Activists' signs express support for immigrant community at a rally to protest the end of DACA in Portland on Sept. 5, 2017. Diego G Diaz / Shutterstock.

"I think everybody across party lines wants to see our military funded. They want to see the CHIP program funded," Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel told CNN.

As for DACA, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have made their support for "Dreamers" clear. Many Democrats were on hand back in November when thousands protested on Capitol Hill, and Sen. Lindsey Graham has attempted to safeguard immigrant children multiple times.

Senate GOP leaders still need roughly 10 Democrats to sign on to the bill the House passed to fund the government based on Senate rules requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster and advance.

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