Democrats Abandon Threats to Shut Down Government to Protect Dreamers

Protesters demanding reinstitution of DACA won’t be happy, but Democrats don’t want to be blamed for a hard line that ruins Christmas for millions of federal employees. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Bowing to public opinion, and probably fearing a Trump immigration demagoguery offensive, congressional Democrats have sent unmistakable signals that they aren’t going to trigger a pre-Christmas government shutdown in pursuit of demands that Republicans reinstitute Obama’s DACA program or similar protections for Dreamers. Politico has the story:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi haven’t stopped fighting to deliver something on immigration by the end of the month. But they’ve subtly shifted their rhetoric in recent days and aren’t insisting that deportation relief be paired with a government funding bill this year.

Instead they are pursuing a bipartisan deal to secure Dreamer relief in exchange for concessions to Republicans in other areas of immigration policy, notably spending for what is loosely described as “border control.” In part, this decision is based on recognition that the president’s delay in the effective date of his executive order rescinding DACA doesn’t hit until March. But if progress toward a deal stalls — because, for example, the administration demands a border wall or massive restrictions to legal immigration — Democrats could retain leverage by linking protection for Dreamers to the next stopgap funding deadline early next year. This way, Democrats can’t be blamed for ruining Christmas for millions of federal employees.

One possibility, according to aides, is for Democrats is to secure a handshake agreement with Republican leaders to address the issue early next year.

They might want to ask Senator Susan Collins, who provided a key vote for the GOP tax bill in exchange for spending concessions that have now evaporated, about the value of “handshake agreements” with the people currently running the federal government. The other problem for Democrats is that advocates for immigrants and militant progressives generally won’t be happy with the idea of a stand-down on Dreamers:

“If Congress goes home for Christmas and leaves Dreamers in the cold, there will be a grassroots uprising that will scorch every legislator who fails to do what’s right,” Ben Wikler, MoveOn.org’s Washington director, said in an interview.

Congressional Democratic leaders have decided that’s a risk they are willing to take.

Democrats Won’t Shut Down Government to Protect Dreamers