The federal government is finally back open, after being closed for a few days while Republicans and Democrats hassled over immigration policy, but there remain questions to be answered to keep us from falling into the same trap the next time that Congress has to renew government funding.
Central to the policy debates that pushed the government towards a shutdown was the fate of the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children and were protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program — that is, until the Trump administration moved to end that program.
Democrats didn’t want to re-open the government without enacting protections for “Dreamers” — those protected under DACA — but they eventually went along with a government spending plan in the face of a promise from Republican leadership that the immigration policy issue would soon be taken up.
In the time before the Senate reached that agreement, however, Senators threw out a number of options to keep the government from ever shutting down in the first place.
One of the incentives offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to Republicans to get them to go along with protections for Dreamers was funding for the president’s long promised wall in between the U.S. and Mexico.
As recently as last week, the day before the meeting at which Schumer is reported to have offered the funding, Trump touted the supposed necessity of his proposed border wall on Twitter, writing:
‘We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country… If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!’
Considering that fact, Schumer’s offer should have in theory been enough to push the president’s team to accept protections for Dreamers but lo and behold it was not, and much to the chagrin of much of the Democratic base, Democratic U.S. Senators ended up going along with re-opening the government without actually ensuring any protections for Dreamers.
Most Democrats did so at least — some abstained from supporting the spending measure without protections for Dreamers.
Now, perhaps unsurprisingly, POLITICO is reporting that Schumer has withdrawn his offer for border wall funding, perhaps bringing him more in line with the wing of his party that wasn’t interested in going along with any plan that did not fully respect the needs of immigrants.
Second in command Senate Democrat Dick Durbin is one of those to have revealed as much, saying on Tuesday that Schumer “called the White House yesterday and said it’s over.”
‘In the now-famous cheeseburger summit last Friday with Trump, Schumer offered a large increase in border wall spending as a condition for a broader deal to help Dreamers. But after that offer was rebuffed — prompting the three-day government shutdown — the president has now “missed an opportunity to get the wall,” one Democratic aide said.’
The president offered relatively positive comments about that meeting after it took place on Twitter, and Schumer having offered funding for the wall is probably a good explanation for that.
For now, whether or not Democrats and Republicans can come to an immigration policy deal and keep the government from shutting down yet again when it’s time to renew funding remains to be seen.
The president remains in his skeptical-of-everything-that’s-not-himself position.
Featured Image via The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images