The federal government remained shut down going into Monday morning, with large numbers of federal employees having to go into work only to get the official notice of their furlough.
Senators were unable to reach a deal in time to keep the government from shutting down as Saturday dawned, so now, large parts of the federal workforce have their acute futures in question. At the same time, important programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, remain on shaky ground at best, with Republicans having pushed off renewing funding for the program long enough to get it tied up in the present debates.
Republican leaders like Vice President Mike Pence have touted the negative effects of the shutdown, such as the fact that it puts a stall on military pay.
Why, then, has the GOP not yet moved for a deal with Democrats to get the government re-opened?
The answer, according to The New York Times, is in the form of two names — John Kelly and Stephen Miller.
Trump tapped Kelly, who was at the time serving as Secretary of Homeland Security, to be his chief of staff after the abrupt departure of RNC official Reince Priebus from the position. Miller — who has long been controversial — has been a Trump adviser for some time, having served alongside Steve Bannon.
The Times describes the situation with these two men as follows:
‘[T]wice over the past two weeks, Mr. Trump has privately told lawmakers he is eager to strike a deal to extend legal status to the so-called Dreamers, only to have his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, make clear afterward that such a compromise was not really in the offing — unless it also included a host of stiffer immigration restrictions.’
It’s the status of the “Dreamers” that has occupied a central position in the fight over the future of government funding. The “Dreamers” are those who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought here as young children from deportation.
Trump has moved to end that program and possibly open the door to mass deportations, something the Democrats can’t let happen.
Publicly, Trump has framed Democrats wanting to protect Dreamers as them supporting a massive influx of supposedly dangerous illegal immigrants.
On Twitter on Sunday for instance, Trump claimed on Twitter that “Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked.”
He has not, however, always kept up that stern about-face, and has seemed at times ready to make a deal. However, the president’s willingness has come out of a seeming certain misunderstanding of the fundamentals of immigration policy, something that was put on display during a recent public meeting between the president and members of the Senate.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said during that meeting that she wanted a “clean DACA bill,” and Trump agreed — until being reminded by GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that a “clean DACA bill” is something without, essentially, any concessions from the Democrats for the increased border security that Republicans want.
GOP Senator Lindsay Graham is among those who have bemoaned the influence of the president’s staffers pulling him back from a deal at key times of uncertainty, communicating his frustrations with Stephen Miller’s involvement in negotiations to reporters on Sunday.
For now, the question of when the government will re-open remains just that — a question.
The president, meanwhile, is continuing to rant on Twitter about the whole thing.
Featured Image via Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images