It is becoming clear that the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans means nothing to the power brokers in Washington.

Americans want a level economic playing field, not tax breaks for the rich. Overwhelmingly, Americans support health insurance for children. Eighty percent of Americans support “Dreamers” brought to this country as children and do not want to see them deported.

Sick children and Dreamers are people, but lawmakers in Washington use them as bargaining chips. Since 1997, reauthorizing CHIP has been a given. The program expired last September, leaving 9 million children at risk. Demands to reauthorize CHIP were ignored until it was tied to a short-term bill to fund the government. It was an impossible choice: Choose health insurance for kids or Dreamers who risk deportation. Americans do not like one vulnerable group leveraged against another for political gain.

Now, CHIP is funded but the government is only funded until early February. Congress should put a clean bill for the Dreamers on the floor – they have repeatedly refused to do so. So, the fight for the Dreamers is tied to the spending bill. Americans have said loud and clear in poll after poll that on a bipartisan basis, we want protections for Dreamers.

The will of the people is supposed to mean something. So, if Sen. Susan Collins still has the talking stick she used during the negotiations to end the shutdown, I ask her: Please hand it over to the American people so we too are heard loud and clear. Washington is there to do the will of the overwhelming majority – not a minority that they fear will vote them out of office.

Theressa Harrigan