On Jan. 22, a Continued Resolution (CR) was issued by the United States Senate to open the government back up until a new deadline on Feb. 8, 2018.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects nearly 700,000 people brought to the United States illegally as children from being deported, was the primary reason the gridlock and subsequent shutdown occurred. Whose fault it was, as far as political parties go, depends on your personal view.
Democrats had an agreement with Republicans and President Donald Trump on DACA before the president backed out, which led to Democrats boycotting a spending bill from passing. The debate here is whether or not it was because Republicans didn’t keep their word, or if Democrats were being too stubborn.
Regardless, the March 5 deadline for the complete abolishment of the program is just around the corner and there doesn’t seem to be any clear indication whether or not Democrats will push for another shutdown to preserve DACA.
Democrats, however, hope they won’t need to use the shutdown as leverage anymore. Thanks to a commitment they secured from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which allows them to intensify the pressure on Republicans and Trump to fix DACA.
“Should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires on Feb. 8, so long as the government remains open,” McConell said in a speech to the Senate on Jan. 22. “It would be my intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA and border security, as well as other related issues.”
They were promised by McConnell that an immigration debate will be held soon, one they hope will result in bipartisan legislation. The idea is that the Senate vote would bypass the gridlock which caused the government to shut down in the first place.
If that happens, it forces the Republican-held House and Trump to provide an actual solution to the issue — and if they don’t, the blame will be shifted to them.
That removes Democrats’ incentive to boycott the next spending bill, which would once again shut down the government. However, it relies on McConnell actually keeping his word, and following through on the debate. See a pattern here?
If Democrats are indeed willing to put stock in the Republican leader’s word, despite past transgressions, this would be the end of the matter. That being said, it’s a pretty risky bet.
Democrats seem to think they’ll have a cleaner narrative next time if Republicans waffle on DACA and hundreds of thousands of people are at risk. Therefore, in the event the Republicans don’t keep their word, they get some very, very bad optics.
Just remember that in 2013, two shutdowns ago, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform plan and House Republicans never acted.
It’s not abundantly clear that this time will be different.
Ben Hummel is an English and political science major and can be reached at email@example.com