I’d like to provide you with a few different viewpoints on the current budget/immigration standoff, in light of Democrats agreeing three days into the shutdown to approve a budget resolution. I’m seeing varying opinions from the blue side, and I don’t presume to know the future outcome of this conflict of basic social vales/chess match (take your pick).
Trump ended DACA unilaterally five months ago, and Republicans joined him in taking hostage the lives of tens of thousands of Americans who have done nothing wrong. They cannot be rewarded for this. Mitch McConnell famously goes back on this word, even to his fellow Republicans, and his vague assurances of bringing DREAM legislation to the floor cannot be trusted by anyone who has been paying attention. By caving on their pledge to stand against any further proceedings of the federal government without a clean DREAM Act, Senate Democrats sold out the most vulnerable amongst us and gave up their political leverage. And they did this while the breathtaking majority of Americans support protection for DREAMers. Morale has been undercut, and even the optics are self-destructive. The Democrats have demonstrated that when push comes to shove, they will not have the political courage to stand up for principles, and marginalized populations will again be thrown under the bus.
This was the best possible outcome for the current budget standoff. Democrats gained an enormous benefit this round in re-authorization of Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. The passage of a Clean DREAM Act becomes much more feasible when there’s actual legislation on the table, which now can happen. McConnell made an explicit promise on the Senate floor — if he goes back on it, he loses an enormous amount of political clout, which a canny politician like McConnell is unlikely to do. In the war on messaging, the Democrats were losing public opinion every day, so the optics and politics were only going to deteriorate at this point — putting red state Democratic seats in peril and undercutting the current midterm advantage. Democrats allowed the federal government to reopen for only 17 days, after which they can, and likely will, easily use this leverage again. And this time, the Democratic threat to shutdown the government over this issue has more teeth, because all now know that they are willing to go through with it.
Whether this was surrender or a wise gambit depends on the outcome.
On Friday there was a report from Politico that Senate Democrats have dropped DACA from the budget negotiations, but I want to note that there’s been no corroboration on this reporting from any other source.
I’d like also to point out that all three of our members of Congress, Senators Feinstein and Harris and Representative Pelosi, voted No on the continuing resolution because it did not contain a clean DREAM Act, and have pledged to continue to do so.
The continuing resolution that was passed funds the government through February 8, and an immigration deal is being negotiated this week — so now is the time for us as citizens to step up our messaging to our elected representatives stating clearly what priorities, values and deal-breakers we want them to embrace.