WASHINGTON — Jimmy Kimmel again waded into a divisive congressional debate, this time about the showdown over a funding bill to prevent a shutdown at the end of the day on Friday.
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Thursday, Kimmel slammed Republicans for making an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, part of their short-term spending bill. He said the GOP was using CHIP as a “bargaining tool” to get Democrats to vote for the funding plan.
“Funding for CHIP should never have been allowed to run out in the first place,” Kimmel said. “This is a program that is supported overwhelmingly by both parties, Republicans and Democrats, and all Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell had to do is put it up for a vote and it would have been a done deal. But they decided to use it as a bargaining tool.”
He accused Republicans of wanting to “use children’s health as leverage.”
Kimmel last month brought his baby boy to the set of his show and urged Congress to protect the program. CHIP actually expired on Sept. 30, and it has been operating on remaining funds in various states as well as short-term reauthorization.
Kimmel last year railed against Republican plans to rollback the Affordable Care Act, and his emotional appeals were viewed by Democrats as a factor in gaining public support in their efforts to successfully block repeal legislation. In his monologues, he talked about his son’s rare heart condition and the difficulties that parents who don’t have the means or access to quality healthcare would face in the same situation.
As he has before, Kimmel tried to explain the current situation via “Barista Theater,” in which he tries to buy a cappuccino, but the barista demands that he also purchase a bag of horses with it. Kimmel refused to do that, so the server then said he’d just shut his coffee cart down.
Kimmel also mocked President Donald Trump for not having a full grasp on what is at stake. He noted Trump’s tweet in which he said CHIP should not be part of the short-term funding bill. But that was contradicted later on Thursday when Trump urged lawmakers to pass it, with the CHIP extension.
“I think Donald Trump actually wants a government shutdown. I think he thinks it will be like a snow day for him to take off,” Kimmel said.
He also mocked the impasse. “We’ve reached a point where North and South Korea have a better relationship than Republicans and Democrats do,” he said.
The House passed the short-term funding legislation, which would keep the government going until Feb. 16. But there is a standoff in the Senate, where more than 40 Democrats and a handful of Republicans have signaled their opposition.
Democrats are demanding that the funding bill include protections for “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children. Last fall, Trump announced that his administration would rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that protected the immigrants. He gave Congress until March to come up with a legislative solution.
Funding for the government will run out at midnight if no legislation is passed and signed by Trump.