January 22, 2018
Most federal workers weren't planning on a long weekend -- but thanks to Senate Democrats, that's exactly what they got. Apparently, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) idea of solving the government's problems is closing it! And while there are plenty of days we'd agree, this weekend's shutdown is just the latest evidence that the Left has no intention of cooperating on anything -- including the issues they care about.
Like 2013's showdown, when Democrats were willing to shut the government's doors over Planned Parenthood funding, this latest standoff was the Left's desperate attempt to back GOP leaders into a corner on a hotly debated issue: amnesty. At the center of the conflict is DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As Heritage's experts explain, "Unilaterally created by President Obama, DACA provides pseudo-legal status to illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as minors. It gives them a promise that they won't be deported, as well as providing them with work authorizations and access to Social Security and other government benefits."
Obviously, the idea is controversial -- but no more controversial than the Democrats' strategy for dealing with it. As House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) points out, the irony of the shutdown -- which ended this afternoon when Congress passed a short-term funding bill -- is that Congress was in the middle of tackling DACA when liberals pulled the plug. Schumer's problem, Ryan argues, is that he doesn't want Republicans to deal with the real issue. "DACA is a symptom of a broken immigration system. We want to fix the root cause of this problem while we deal with DACA so that we don't have 700,000 more DACA kids in five years. That's common sense," he said on Sunday's "Face the Nation."
"...People don't get paid. People get furloughed. We have soldiers fighting for us, troops overseas fighting for us who [wouldn't get] paid." What's more, he went on, "[Democrats] shut it down over an unrelated immigration issue with a deadline weeks away. And what's so baffling about this was we were negotiating in good faith on DACA all the same... We actually want to solve this problem. So it's not as if we were saying, 'No way, no how... No discussions.' They blew up the discussions that were already underway."
Although the government's lights are back on, thanks to a continuing resolution that passed 81-18 a little after noon, the fact of the matter is this: Democrats were completely indifferent to the millions of Americans caught in the crossfire -- including the men and women serving our nation in uniform. "Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration," President Trump tweeted, "Can't let that happen!" Since this weekend, the order had gone out: training was on hold for more than 110,000 Guard and Reserve personnel. As FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin pointed out, this impasse might not have been a big deal for the average D.C. bureaucrat, who doesn't mind waiting for back-pay, "but it's a huge deal for a Private First Class, who lives paycheck to paycheck. It's the young, enlisted troops who are hurt by this. How are their families supposed to get groceries if they aren't being paid? It's a moral dilemma."
And it wasn't just the military Democrats were willing to hurt. Nine million kids are waiting for the health care coverage that was shelved by Schumer's shutdown. Yet Democrats were willing to hold that up for the 700,000 who are here illegally? "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," the White House Press Office said in a statement.
With the tax cuts starting to kick in, Republicans' popularity on the rise, and the State of the Union a week away, there's nothing liberals want more than distract and delay. That may have worked for a weekend, but they'll have a tough time burying the progress of the last year with what has become known as the Schumer Shutdown.
For now, at least, the threat of a long-term stalemate is over. But it is anyone's guess as to what will happen in three weeks when this latest short-term funding bill expires.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.