President Trump continues to take a beating in the shutdown polls. Most recently, “In the latest The Hill-HarrisX survey, 46 percent of registered voters who identify as political independents said that Trump and the congressional GOP are primarily responsible for the government closure, a 7-point jump from a Dec. 30-31 survey.” Only 17 percent of independents blame Democrats primarily. Even Republicans don’t seem thrilled with the shutdown. (“Even as GOP voters' willingness to blame Democrats has increased, only 56 percent of Republican voters say that congressional Democrats are responsible. By comparison, 81 percent of Democratic voters say that Trump or the congressional GOP are at fault.”) When Trump cannot snow even the entire Fox News-saturated GOP base, maybe it is time to rethink what he’s doing.
The domestic politics plus international fear that Trump’s shutdown could be pushing us closer to a recession may have prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to blink — or to blink on behalf of a bleary-eyed White House. McConnell will take a vote on Trump’s disingenuous proposal for $5.7 billion for the wall in exchange for temporary relief for “dreamers.” For the first time, however, he’ll also allow a vote to reopen the government at least through Feb. 8.
Maybe the Supreme Court’s decision not to disturb lower-court rulings keeping Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in place for the foreseeable future made clear even to the most obtuse Republican senators that Trump is offering nothing. It didn’t help that Trump (or President Stephen Miller) slipped in harsh measures to cut off many asylum claims.
The latter got Democrats plenty mad and sent Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to the floor to denounce the empty offer. “The president single-handedly canceled DACA and TPS protections. He did it himself, on his own, a while back,” he said. “Now, offering some temporary protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise; it’s more hostage taking. When the president says I’ll give you DACA and TPS partially, even though he created the problem on his own in exchange for the wall, it’s like bargaining for stolen goods.” Schumer also accused the White House of a bait-and-switch routine. “The president’s team sold the DACA protections as the Bridge Act, a temporary fix originally proposed by Senators [Richard J.] Durbin and [Lindsey O.] Graham. Turns out the actual legislation is even more limited than the Bridge Act and would barely restore the protections that President Trump himself took away,” Schumer declared. Moreover, he deplored the “incredibly partisan changes to our asylum system that make it nearly impossible for migrants to claim asylum at our border.”
Schumer applauded the decision to ditch McConnell’s excuse not to bring the House bill to the floor (i.e., Trump won’t sign it). “The good news is, after that vote, we have a second amendment that could break us out of the morass we are in," crowed Schumer. "The Senate will proceed to an amendment to the House bill that is identical to the underlying legislation. In other words, for the first time, we will get a vote on whether to open up the government without any decision one way or the other on border security.”
At least the argument that the Senate cannot vote on anything Trump won’t sign has been dropped. Now perhaps the Senate can come up with its own bill without a permission slip from Trump.
As ridiculous and cruel as Trump’s immigration proposal may be, Democrats must keep their eye on the 800,000 workers not getting paid and their families. How is it possible to demand that people work for no pay? That fundamental unfairness and Trump’s utter lack of concern for the harm he has inflicted should keep Republicans, especially those on the ballot in 2020, up late. Maybe it will prompt them finally to end Trump’s shutdown, pay workers what they are owed and begin to vote on immigration proposals (e.g., security measures without a wall) most Americans support.