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.