Sympathy for the Devil, er, Chuck Schumer

The Senate agreed to a short-term spending bill today, so the shutdown is over, for now, and the can is kicked down the road to February 8.

I’m reading at Vox that today’s bill included six years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, so if this bill is approved by the House at least one thing will be off the table for awhile.  If it doesn’t go through, 1.7 million children in 20 states and the District of Columbia would lose access to healthcare in the next few weeks, and another 2 million children will lose access in just a bit more time. Ten states plus DC would have to shut down their programs in a couple of weeks. It’s being cut pretty close.

However, the bigger concern right now is DACA. I’m seeing lefties on social media absolutely slam Chuck Schumer for caving on DACA. Whether it’s really a cave or just a semi-cave depends on whom you ask.

Dylan Scott at Vox:

In agreeing to break the impasse after a three-day shutdown, Democrats are banking that they have successfully pigeonholed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell into opening an immigration debate in the coming weeks and that an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote for an immigration bill would put pressure on the House and White House. They are already warning that if their demands aren’t met, another government shutdown could happen on February 8, when the three-week short-term funding bill runs out. And next time they won’t have Republicans dangling a six-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program over their heads.

Brian Beutler at Crooked:

Late Friday night, Democrats drew the line here: our votes will not help fund a government that will deport immigrants brought to the country by their parents as children. Republicans rejected that demand, and the government shut down.

On Monday morning, less than three full days later, they redrew the line at a less-than-ironclad promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to consider legislation in the Senate that would presumably protect at least some of the Dreamer population.

This is unsatisfying in a number of ways, most obviously because the government shutdown will end without any guarantee that Congress, as opposed to just the Senate, will pass, and Donald Trump will sign, legislation that creates permanent protections for Dreamers. To the contrary, the structure of the arrangement almost guarantees that we will reach the next government spending deadline no closer than we are today to resolving the problem Trump created when he terminated the deferred action program for childhood arrivals in September.

There’s no guarantee what Trump might do, no matter what Congress does. He’s already been offered funding for his wall if the Dreamers can be protected, and he shot that down.  And don’t forget, Trump created this problem by ending the DACA program, which he could reinstate with a signature. Brian Beutler continues,

Together, the Republican leaders of the House and Senate could take matters into their own hands. It is their cynicism, indifference, and fear, as much as Trump’s incompetence, that leaves Dreamers confronting the imminence of their expulsions.

You know I’m not a big fan of Chuck, but I think he was in a lose/lose situation here. If he’d passed up CHIP funding to hold out for DACA, he’d have been skewered for that, especially if DACA falls through anyway.

Note that a lot of activists were upset with Schumer last week because he offered to fund the wall in exchange for reinstating DACA. Philip Bump wrote at WaPo last week:

When the New York Times first reported it, it seemed unlikely. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered President Trump funding for his wall in exchange for protecting immigrants who entered the country illegally as children? The most powerful Democrat in the Senate was willing to support one of his party’s most-hated proposals, just like that? The Times wrote simply that Schumer “discussed the possibility of fully funding the president’s wall on the southern border with Mexico” — which leaves some wiggle room.

On the floor of the Senate on Saturday, though, Schumer explained that it was almost exactly that: A deal on those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that would also potentially fund the wall.

That it was. Schumer offered to give Trump something that Schumer’s own base would hate; in return, Republicans would agree to something that their base is fine with.

Yep, that’s what Bump said.

… the DACA program — which allows those who immigrated illegally as children to remain and work in the United States — is broadly popular: 84 percent of Americans think it should be preserved, including 72 percent of Republicans.

If so, why is it so hard to get a DACA bill through Congress? Two reasons: Trump doesn’t like it, and congressional Republicans are nuttier than a Planters factory.

Brian Beutler is right that today’s agreement is unsatisfactory, but there’s no guarantee that continuing the shutdown would have created anything satisfactory, either. The zeitgeist I’m seeing on leftie social media today is that Chuck should have let the CHIPS kids die already and focused on DACA, but you know that soon enough people would have noticed the dying children and blamed that on Chuck, too.

Seems to me that if Beutler’s numbers are accurate, it would be in Republicans’ own interest to work with the Democrats on a DACA bill. If Trump vetoes it, that’s on him. But the Republican Party seems to have inflicted on itself the same curse it inflicted on Republican voters — for some reason, they are compelled to vote against their own interests.

It’s also the case that the DACA deadline is not as clear cut as is being made out on social media. Eric Columbus writes in Politico,

So is DACA already dead? Not so fast. On January 9, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Trump’s DACA rescission was illegal because it rested on a “flawed legal premise that the agency lacked authority to implement DACA.” The court ordered DHS to resume processing all DACA renewal applications. …

…Most expected that the administration would immediately ask a higher court to put the ruling on hold — in legal terms, to seek a “stay” — pending an appeal.

Instead, on January 13, DHS announced that it would abide by the injunction and reopen the DACA renewal process. Anyone whose DACA permit has expired, or is about to expire, may reapply for a two-year extension. …

…California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose state is a plaintiff in the DACA litigation, said that DACA’s temporary reprieve diminishes the need for Democrats to make other immigration-related concessions — possibly including funding for Trump’s wall along the Mexican border, limits on family-based migration, and speeding up the deportation process — in order to save it. Most DACA advocates, however, are loath to let up the pressure for a DACA fix, given the difficulty of finding another suitable must-pass legislative vehicle to force Republicans to the negotiating table.

It’s true that on January 18 the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review the federal court decision, rather than go through the court of appeals first, but it’s unlikely the SCOTUS will take the case. However, the Justice Department didn’t ask for a stay of the injunction, which undermines its own case that DACA is a five-alarm fire that must be put out ASAP. Eric Columbus continues,

Either way, March 5 is highly unlikely to mean anything at all. Any end to the injunction—whether at the hands of the Supreme Court or the 9th Circuit—is almost certainly months away at the earliest. And if the injunction is lifted, the administration will need to decide whether to end DACA immediately or develop another gradual wind-down process like the one it announced last fall.

On the other hand, children were in danger of losing health care beginning in a couple of weeks. I think taking the CHIPS offer is a deal I might have taken, too.

I have no feel for whether a DACA bill could pass Congress (although why not, if Philip Bump is right and Republicans like DACA?). I don’t trust that the Republicans will magically start bargaining in good faith. It’s entirely possible that Trump would veto any bill with DACA in it. It’s said he’s being manipulated by the hard liners on his staff, in particular Stephen Miller and John Kelly. Miller is an out-and-out white supremacist neo-Nazi asshole, in spite of being the great grandson of immigrant Polish Jews. CNBC published a story Saturday saying that John Kelly was behind killing a deal to fund the government

Here’s a list of how every Senator voted, if you’re interested.

15 thoughts on “Sympathy for the Devil, er, Chuck Schumer

  1. Interesting deadline date.  Trump depends on being the talk of TV, which is why he pulls these stunts.  However, shutting down the government on February 8 won't get a lot of press.  That is the day the Olympics in South Korea begin–unless trump has dropped a bomb on North Korea.  After that, the Olympics will be the top story for two weeks.  If I had a time machine, I would Stephen Miller back in time to 1940 to Warsaw, Poland, and wish him good luck.

  2. What the status today means is a  matter of perspective and the verdict of history will depend on an outcome that's unknown. For the purist progressive, the government should have stayed closed until Trump and the Republicans completely surrendered. That was never going to happen.

    For the cynical strategist, the outcome is perfect. DACA is now front and center with the media. The Trump whisperers believe this is a huge victory today and they will exploit it to thrill the base. Crush the Democrats! That means the wall, and establishing Administration-defined criteria to deport whatever segment of Dreamers offend hard-liners. That's never going to happen because cynical Democrats will throw Dreamers under the bus and invite Trump to fly his racist freak openly if there is no middle ground.

    There is a problem for Republicans who have as their primary goal getting reelected. Aligning themselves with Trump has been the only safe strategy until now. If the hard-liners can dictate Trump's policies in openly racist terms (which might be very clear in WH demands) then  Republicans in Congress, and especially GOP House members, will have to be racist as their Prez or align themselves with a position that the 87% who support a status for Dreamers want. I'm not clear how that might work out.

    I'm not sure the hard-liners don't intend to start deportations on March 6. Politically, it's a bad strategy, but if Democrats won't completely cave, then Miller and Kelly might start executing hostages. 

    Lindsey Graham is talking about a "Gang of 60" in the Senate who will define a compromise before the deadline. McConnell has reportedly said he will open the Senate to consider anything on immigration. The war shifts to the House if Lindsey pulls it off. The proposal has a Republican face on it if Democrats let LG take the lead.

    Best possible outcome is if the Congress acts like an independent co-equal branch of government and produces a compromise that reflects the views of voters on Dreamers. Let Trump completely own a veto.

    Keeping the government shut down was a political loser for Democrats. I'm not thrilled with where we are, but this may turn out well – more by accident than design.

  3. A DACA bill will surely pass this year, if not next month. Why? Because a vast majority of the American people would support it? In part, I suppose. But more importantly, perhaps, the Koch brothers would (along with other Republican donors, I suppose). The key question for US legislation is what the political donors want.

    On a not so minor point: Philip Bump at the Washington Post referred to a DACA bill as "protecting immigrants who entered the country illegally as children". This is an example of accepting ultra-conservative anti-immigration framing. The "dreamers" (different framing) did not enter the country illegally. They were brought into the country illegally. Framing them as "illegal immigrants" then leads into calling a DACA bill "amnesty", which some pundits are doing now. The acceptance by mainstream media and even Democratic politicians and pundits of right wing framing is to surrender the rhetorical field of battle before the battle begins. This has been a known problem for well over 20 years, thanks to George Lakoff and others.

  4. Immigration is THE issue that Trump rode to the White House.  The GOP Donor Base always wants more (fearful, non-unionizable) laborers, but the party and it's propaganda organs have used xenophobia/racism to get millions of voters  to vote Republican, against their economic interests.  Trump – not beholden to the Donors – used the issue to win the GOP nomination.

    GOP politicians need to appear anti-immigrant to win Primaries, but – once elected – need to prevent any real decrease in the (cheap) labor pool.  They want DACA – and more – but can't be (seen as) responsible for it; they need to let Democrats own the issue.    

    The Democratic Party should be split on this issue – Labor should oppose the downward pressure on wages – but private-sector unions are dead, and public-sector union wages are shielded by Citizenship requirements.  Two other Democratic factions – "Liberals" (for compassion? or cheap help?) and Hispanics – have shaped the current Party doctrine on Immigration.  

    Many of the votes which put Trump over the top in the Rust Belt were people who previously voted for Obama.  Both (major) Parties are competing for those votes in 2018, and DACA is not a winning issue with them.  Most would probably go along with DACA (if/when it gets explained in positive terms?), but it can – and will – be painted as giving OUR jobs to EELLEGGALL IMMMIGRANTZ!

    IMHO, "shutting down the government" over DACA was a dicey choice for the Democrats, and I'm glad they didn't push it harder.  As Maha points out, they got CHIP, which really is important.

    But as usual, the question will be whether the Democrats can "win the Spin" as this plays out. elkern

  5. I think it wa a reasonable deal.  It got CHIP funded for years, and it gets a public promise from the Republicans on DACA. Mind you, it's not that I think they won't break that promise; I think the odds are very high that they will break it.  And if they do it makes it much harder for media to promote the idea that Democrats are responsible, or even largely possible, for the subsequent shutdown.  We've already seen a lot of media crap accepting the Republican spin and talking points on shutdown blame even though their claim makes no sense.  The next time out, just a few weeks from now, it will be that much harder to use that bogus spin.  Plus CHIP is funded.  Given that Schumer did this while having virtually no leverage, I think it was pretty damn good.

  6. Chuck and Nancy seem to have a hard time projecting the fact that they are MINORITY leaders, they let the GOP put them in a box, how is it that the minority is blamed for the majorities dysfunction? The GOP has worked the refs (MSM) so hard for so long that the democrats can't get any traction, worse yet they don't even try. We have a loudmouth blow-hard in the whitehouse that is constant war mode, and on our side we have a couple feckless bureaucrats with no desire and or no ability to stand and fight. I liked senator Duckworth's slam of "cadet bone spurs" but it would be more effective if it was "president bone spurs" I'd wager Chuck made her use "cadet" as to not insult the office?

  7. I've been seeing a lot about how it's a bad deal, and very little about how it funds CHIP. Three weeks of government operations to get CHIP funded for 104x as long strikes me as a fine deal, especially with the notion that "we haven't forgotten about DACA, you know…."

    I'm not sure why I'm seeing complaints and such. This is a complicated hostage negotiation, and I'm not sure the GOP realizes they handed over their penultimate hostage.

    • LHW– I posted a link about the good news on CHIP on Facebook yesterday and was nearly accused of being a racist for abandoning the dreamers. People have gotten hysterical.

  8. Why should DACA kids be cheap labor? They were raised in US culture, with US education and speaking good English. OC, they are not, as a group, as acculturated as their kids will be, but they are not the equivalent of wetbacks or coolies.

  9. Does

    theTrumpster want to cut a deal before his State of the Union? Or is it red meat time?

    I'm guessing red meat…

  10. Billikin – Good point –  DACA (ex-)kids are not inherently cheap labor.  Unfortunately, that makes them more expendable to the GOP.  Damn; that will make Democratic attempts to help them more expensive in two ways – the GOP can extract more concessions if they bother to cut a deal, and the race-baiting Know-Nothings will bludgeon Democratic candidates with caring more about "them" than "us".

  11. From the outside, baseball is about pitching an hitting. Winning at baseball is about strategy, If you get the 'out' at second base by letting the winning run cross the plate, it was a bad play. A year ago, I told people democrats could not win the House in 2018. We have the momentum to do that and possibly take the majority in the Senate. 

    Being in control of both legislative chambers means we control the agenda, where the agenda is no an abstract list of ideas – it's concrete policy. We could attach a 'clean dream' to a piece of must-pass legislation. It's a year away and a maybe.

    The certainty of a prolonged shutdown would have threatened the wave election that's building. Moderates who support a clean dream in some form do NOT want the government shut down.  CHIP babies dying for lack of funding would have siphoned off the energy for dems in the next election. 

    Nobody is looking at the no-win scenario that the GOP is in. Trump has let the most extreme elements control immigration policy. That policy, if it's acted on, is VERY unpopular outside the third of the country who eat up the white nationalist message. If Trump starts deporting Dreamers and the media is poised to televise it, that will play badly for the GOP up for reelection who sign on to Trump policies. If Trump doesn't start to execute the hostages this year, he won't have the chance if dems insert a clean dream to a budget. (Unless Trump is willing to shut down the government and own it.)

    Schuner has played it right so far. We can't guarantee that all the hostages will survive, but we will save most of them and we'll force the GOP into a public stance akin to broadcasting the panic in a gas chamber as the executions begin. The media spotlight is on them for what they do.

  12. The DACA question is interesting, if not bizarre. It is not a Left vs. Right issue, but a Center vs. Rabid Right issue. The main Republican offer seems to be this: We get something that you don't want, and in exchange, you get something that we want, too. The main Democratic counter seems to be this: Give us what we both want, or we'll both get something neither of us wants. The imbalance of power in these negotiations is pretty clear. And, OC, there are other complications, which we all know about, as well. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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