January 24, 2018

The Next Shutdown

Second verse, same as the first but a whole lot louder and a whole lot worse

by Chris Thomas

Photo by Jose Fontano

The United States government has been open for business for less than three days and already the writing is on The Wall for the next shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell convinced Democrats to support a Continuing Resolution, funding the government through February 8th, in exchange for a promise of a future Senate vote on legislation to protect the Dreamers but there appears to be no real urgency behind that promise.

Stepping Back From The Brink

Meanwhile, the government runs out of money on February 8th and unless Republicans in the House, Senate, and White House can all agree to anger their base on Senator McConnell’s word, the events of late January are going to repeat themselves in early February.

President Trump indicated that mass-deportations of Dreamers could start as early as March, though the Courts have effectively postponed that indefinitely while the issue is debated in Congress. Nonetheless, Republicans appear to regard March as their deadline while Democrats see the problem as more immediate.

Critically, Senator McConnell did not and could not promise anything about the House schedule nor did he apparently indicate if the bill would be “clean” — that is to say free of rider amendments or other possible “poison pills” — so even if McConnell is able to deliver what he sold to the Democrats, the legislation in question will likely be a hard-fought product of political compromise.

Senator Chuck Schumer is already preparing for this eventuality. According to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Schumer promised Trump roughly $25 billion in funding for the construction of a wall along the US/Mexico border as part of a package to fund the government and provide a citizenship path for the Dreamers.

The offer was rebuffed and, Monday, Schumer took it off the table entirely.

Come February 8th, expect to see this dynamic play out again: the Dreamers on one side, funding for the wall on the other, and the day-to-day operations of the US government hanging in the balance.

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