Most Senate Democrats wound up voting to reopen the federal government after a deal was struck assuring Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) that the Senate would vote on some kind of immigration measure by mid-February.
The 81-18 vote allowed a spending bill funding the government through Feb. 8 to move forward. It would also reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years as well as roll back several health-care taxes.
But activists and advocacy groups expecting liberal lawmakers to be more aggressive in fighting for the young undocumented immigrants known as 'dreamers,' many of them protected under the DACA program that President Trump is eliminating, took to social media on Monday to express their outrage at what they believe is a betrayal.
“Senate Democrats are accepting the word of a man and a party that have repeatedly broken their promises to the American people. Over 2,000
#DACA recipients will lose their status while waiting until February 8th. Why should we trust (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” tweeted Latino Victory, a group that helps liberal Latinos get elected.
Other activists, such as Murshed Zaheed, political director of CREDO, a company that supports liberal causes, blamed Schumer for trusting McConnell to look out for the best interest of dreamers.
“It’s official: Chuck Schumer is the worst negotiator in Washington — even worse than Trump. In getting outmaneuvered by Sen. McConnell today, Chuck Schumer has failed dreamers and let the entire Democratic Party down,” he said.
And writer Shaun King blasted Democrats on Twitter, calling their decision to vote with Republicans shameful.
“Democrats have learned nothing from these past few years,” he tweeted. “Democrats caved in 72 hours with 800,000 dreamers at risk. Democrats lack a backbone. Just shameful.”
Those Democratic senators who voted to reopen the government said they are optimistic that a solution for DACA recipients and other dreamers could come soon.
“We now have a commitment to vote on legislation to protect Dreamers within the next 3 weeks, and it will take all our efforts to ensure that vote passes,” tweeted Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee.
“I'm heartened by the bipartisan work of the Senate this weekend to end this senseless shutdown and move toward real, long-term solutions on priorities important to Virginia and our country.”
Sixteen of the 49 Democrats in the Senate voted against reopening the government. Some said the deal was insufficient.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Republicans have shown no interest in finding a solution and probably won't soon.
“Nothing in this legislation gives me any confidence that in three weeks Congress won’t end up exactly where we are today. Funding for the federal government lapsed back in September. The President announced the end of DACA back in September. Yet, instead of doing the hard work of governing, Republicans spent October, November and December asking for short-term extensions so they could binge on trillion-dollar tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest one percent.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, said that the deal does not offer any confidence that the White House has the best interest of dreamers in mind. In a statement, he said:
“This simply kicks the can down the road with no assurance that we will protect Dreamers from deportation or fight Republican attempts to curtail or eliminate legal immigration. I have said since September — when Trump killed DACA — that I will not vote for a long-term or short-term spending bill that fails to protect the Dreamers. We will not fund their deportation and we will not exchange their safety for the deportation of others or for the prohibition of others to enter legally.
“I do not see how a vague promise from the Senate Majority Leader about a vague policy to be voted on in the future helps the Dreamers or maximizes leverage the Democrats and American people have over the Republicans right now.”
And his criticism wasn't limited to conservatives: “This shows me that when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and their families, Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat to allow people in my community to live in our country legally.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), the first formerly undocumented immigrant to serve in Congress, told The Fix that other issues in addition to the deal's handling of DACA led him to vote against it in the House before it went to the Senate.
“I voted against the deal because there was no fix for DACA and it fails to do enough to support or protect DREAMers, but also because it did not include any funding for disaster relief in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and many of my constituents have family members in those communities,” he said.
“And it also does nothing to address the opioid epidemic, which has long been an issue in East Harlem in my district.”
If Democrats — led by Schumer — do not prove to their base that they can get Republicans to back an agreement that supports dreamers, liberal lawmakers may have a difficult time counting on the voters in the more progressive wing of their party to show up for them at the polls later this year.
While recent polling continues to suggest that Democrats have a strong shot at performing well during the 2018 midterms, much depends on turnout. And the 2016 presidential election suggested that progressive demographics — such as black, Latino and millennial voters — do not automatically turn out for candidates just because they lean left.