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Democrats lost the shutdown war

Lindsay Jancek - January 22, 2018

NOTE:  Democrats lost the shutdown war.

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Democrats get rolled in shutdown standoff
Politico
Rachael Bade
January 22, 2018 – 2:19 PM
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/22/government-shutdown-deal-democrats-lose-355997

 

The three-day standoff offered more proof that government closures never end well for those making the demands.

Senate Democrats shut the government down in hopes of striking a deal to shield 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. In the end, they got a promise of a vote — one that Republican argue was going to happen, anyway.

Democrats lost the shutdown war. That much was obvious when they voted to re-open the government with little to show for it. They had vowed for weeks not to back any funding bill without a bipartisan agreement to protect so-called Dreamers. But as Washington entered day three of a government shutdown, Democrats folded, voting to reopen the government barely any closer to their goal.

Republicans declared victory.

"The Dems caved on the #SchumerShutdown," California Republican Rep. Ken Calvert wrote on Twitter Monday.

Added Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a top member of the Senate Appropriations Committee: "Nobody wins in a shutdown, and this time, surely the Democrats didn't win."

The three-day standoff offered further proof that shutdowns never end well for those making the demands. In 2013, Republicans shuttered federal agencies in an attempt to hold up funding for Obamacare. Seventeen days later, they folded with nothing to show for it. Obamacare remained in tact.

Democrats now find themselves in the very same position.

“I think if we've learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration, is something the American people didn't understand and would not have understood in the future,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday. "So I'm glad we've gotten past that and we have a chance now to get back to work.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sought to justify Democrats’ decision to shutter the government, arguing that they “have always sought to be reasonable, to act in good faith, and to get something real done.” He pinned the blame on an "obstinate" President Donald Trump, saying Republicans have "dithered" in striking an immigration deal. And he held up McConnell's promise of a vote as a victory for the left.

“The Senate has muddled along for too long, content to delay action on our most pressing challenges until the very last moment. That ends today," he said. "The Republican majority now has seventeen days to prevent the Dreamers from being deported.”

In reality, however, GOP leaders have said all along that they wanted to take care of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors and were hoping to vote on legislation in the coming weeks. While the agreement perhaps sped that timeline, there's no guarantee that the vote will pass.

Indeed, Democrats and Republicans were no closer to a DACA deal on Monday than they were before the shutdown, raising the possibility of another potential showdown over keeping the government open at the end of the three-week period.

Pushed by liberal base to enshrine the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which expires March 5 due to President Donald Trump’s decision to end the program last fall — Democrats felt they had the moral high ground to make a stand. They pointed to polls that showed that 80 percent of Americans want a solution for Dreamers. And after Trump’s remarks about immigrants from “shithole” countries last week, Democrats were emboldened, thinking now was the time to draw a line.

It turns out, however, that while the public wants a solution for Dreamers, they don’t want it at the expense of shutting down the government. Republicans were able to frame the standoff as Democrats putting illegal immigrants over Americans. And they didn’t budge from their position that they would not negotiate on DACA until Democrats re-opened the government.

“We’re not moving,” said Rep. Mini Walters, a California Republican close with House GOP leadership, on Monday morning. "Any time you want to put people who are in this country illegally over American citizens, I think you have a problem. And that’s the message that they’re sending to the American public: that the Democrats care more about people who are in this country illegally than their own citizens.”

Senate Democrats, sensing that public opinion was moving against them, crossed party lines and voted with their GOP counterparts Monday to fund the government through Feb. 8. In return, they received a promise of a Senate to continue negotiating as they were before.

If the parties don’t agree to a deal by Feb. 8, McConnell vowed to take up stand-alone legislation to fix the matter and let the Senate work its will on the floor.

The deal, however, doesn’t bind the House. Senate Democrats had sought a commitment from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that he would put any Senate-passed immigration deal on the House floor. They didn’t even get that, however.

The outcome will likely weaken Democrats’ hand on immigration. During negotiations, Schumer and multiple House Democrats said they would fund part of Trump’s proposed border wall in return for a Dreamers fix. That offer could embolden Trump and Republicans to seek additional concessions the next time around.

The House is expected to clear the legislation sometime Monday afternoon, enabling hundreds of thousands of federal employees to return to work no latter than Tuesday. The question will then be whether Congress will find itself in the same situation in three weeks.

But for now, Republicans will continue to hammer Democrats over the three-day debacle.

“What was the point of shutting the government down, blocking funds from the military and children’s health?” tweeted Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lou Barletta, an immigration hawk who’s running for Senate. “Absurd shenanigans by Senate Democrats.”


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