Congress

The Government Will Reopen. At Least For a Few Weeks.

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Senate reached an agreement this morning to reopen the shuttered federal government, but it's not going to last for very long.

Senate Democrats agreed to vote for a bill that funds the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 6 years and funds the federal government for about 3 weeks under the condition that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell will hold a vote on a bill to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA).

“It would be my intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA, border security, and related issues as well as disaster relief, defense funding, health care, and other important matters,” McConnell said. “It would be my strong preference for the Senate to consider a proposal that can actually be signed into law, a bipartisan, bicameral group is already negotiating, and I look forward to completion of its work.”

We can safely assume Mitch McConnell is full of shit and will never honor his word, but I'm going to say it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter because Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has fully committed to the Freedom Caucus position that DACA will never be codified or renewed unless its tied to other anti-immigration policies for limiting legal immigration, among other bad things.

Senate Democrats cannot force the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to do anything, but they can foster a scenario in which the next government shutdown can be laid at their feet.

If the Senate passes a sweeping omnibus spending bill for what remains of fiscal 2018 that includes DACA, and if the House refuses to pass it, that's on them.

Alternatively, the House could pass its own bill to do all of those things and tell the Senate to accept it, but that will be a little trickier for Paul Ryan to support. The Freedom Caucus he has wed himself to isn't actually keen on doing all of those things and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can no longer be used as a political weapon or talking point.

Meanwhile, If Mitch McConnell does not honor his word to hold a fair vote on DACA, the next government shutdown on February 8th will be on him.

I believe DACA's best chance for survival this year is in court, not Congress. It's very hard for me to imagine a scenario in which the House passes a bill to renew DACA unless its attached to heinous policies that are simply unacceptable.

That's not the fault of congressional Democrats and the threat of a prolonged shutdown may not be much of a threat at all to people who hate the government and hate immigrants. There are plenty of Republicans in Congress who would gladly shut the government down forever if it leads to more deportations.

If we want to change that, Democrats have to retake control of Congress. That's the bottom line.

  • Badgerite

    Wow. Some hell of a March that was. Needs to be a yearly thing. Right after MLK day. More. More. More.
    “We’re on the move now.”

    • Mildred

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  • muselet

    The Rs will never let DACA legislation, at least legislation that does anything positive, pass in either chamber. The Base won’t let them, for starters.

    So the best the Ds can do for now is to force the Rs to vote against DACA over and over, effectively dare the Rs to shut down the government over the issue, and hope the public (which supports the aims of DACA) pays attention come Election Day.

    It’s a bad hand, but if the Ds play it very well—big if—they could win very big in the midterms.

    –alopecia

    • Victor the Crab

      Or, you’ll have the Right Wing Noise Machine™ continuously blast out of their speakers that the Dems are trying to protect illegal (dark skinned) immigrants by continually shutting down the government over “the best interests” of the party that was “chosen” to run the country – Republicans. The Liberally Biased Mainstream Media™, getting fed up, will start pointing fingers at Democrats for all these non stop shutdowns and asked them to cease and desist for the good of the country. And the Russian trollbots will spread misinformation about how Republicans are being the good guys and Democrats are the bad guys and why. Thus allowing Republicans to reclaim both the House and Senate by wider margins than before.

      And the fucking idiots who gleefuly claim that the Republican party is finished and will be wiped out by a blue tidal wave in the midterms will wake up on the morning of November 7, with the most stupid stunned looks on their faces and wonder what the fuck just happened.

      • muselet

        True, Righty media won’t take this lying down (lying, yes; horizontal, no *rimshot*). The Ds must get better at messaging tout de suite and stop organizing circular firing squads.

        –alopecia

        • ninjaf

          OMG…yes! Please stop with the circular firing squads! Can we just please focus our munitions outward this time? I know it seems like a radical idea but it just might work!

      • ninjaf

        The “librul” mainstream media also needs to stop using Republican terminology when talking about immigration reform. Already I have heard the term “chain migration” being used by EVERYONE. No! That’s their terminology. STOP IT!

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    • gescove

      Doesn’t The Base translate to Al Qaeida in Arabic? Seems fitting, our own domestic terrorists looking for ethnic cleansing and establishing a twisted theocracy.

      I’m conflicted about the wisdom of the Senate Dems supporting this short-term CR. Yes, CHIP is funded. But it seems to me Dems had the upper hand – after all, McConnell had to rise and OBJECT to McCaskill’s amendment to make sure military pay was unaffected by a shutdown.

      • muselet

        1) More or less.

        2) At that moment, the Ds didn’t have much leverage. By getting 6-year funding for CHIP, they took away some of the Rs’ leverage next time. I’m not necessarily thrilled by the outcome, but I’m willing to wait and see before I light my hair on fire.

        –alopecia

        • gescove

          Agreed… hair not yet on fire. The notion of leverage here is the tough issue for me. Do Ds have real leverage when the Rs are willing to just burn things to the ground?

          • muselet

            Leverage is a tricky thing in politics. Here, it refers to the ability to get the public and/or our glorious news media to ask, “You’re willing to shut down the government over WHAT>” The fewer things that Ds care about (like health insurance for kids, like protection for people brought here when they were young) that the Rs can hold hostage, the more likely people will ask that question of the Rs.

            Yeah, it’s a stupid game, but that’s politics.

            –alopecia