Democrats Hand DREAMers an Oar To Speed Their Trip Down the River


This is what happens when no one really cares about you and you cease to be a useful cudgel with which to beat the political opposition.

Senate Democrats are willing to drop their demand that relief for Dreamers be tied to any long-term budget agreement — a potential boost for spending talks, but one that could face opposition from their House counterparts.

The shift comes in response to the deal struck between Senate leaders Monday to reopen the government and begin debate on an immigration bill next month. Meanwhile, budget negotiators are expressing optimism that a two-year agreement to lift stiff caps on defense and domestic spending is increasingly within reach.

“We’re viewing [immigration and spending] on separate terms because they are on separate paths,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “procedural concession means we’ve got a deadline and a process,” Durbin added. “That to me is a significant step forward. It’s not everything I wanted, that’s for sure, but it’s a step forward.”

But House Democrats have signaled they are not ready to go along with a long-term budget deal without a fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump is ending.

“We are insisting that these things be in the same negotiation,” said a senior House Democratic aide. “To us, what’s important is are these talks linked or not linked? To us, they are linked.”

Two weeks ago the Democrats were insisting on tying DACA to the Continuing Resolution. They were so insistent about it that they shut down the federal government for one business day. Then they withdrew the demand and moved on. They did this because they were getting beaten like rented mules in the polls and Mitch McConnell’s press operation had come up with a killer infographic:

The deal ending the shutdown was structured for one of two things. Either Schumer was lying to McConnell and was going to use the February 8 CR deadline as a way of relinking DACA and federal funding, or the two issues were going to be severed completely. Now, it seems like Schumer wanted to get away from a repetitive series of pointless government shutdowns and will not try to force a deal tied to the budget.

While that has a great deal of practicality, I’m missing the strategy. Schumer was beaten, badly, on the last shutdown. He had to accept a deal that didn’t even offer him a fig leaf of dignity. By stripping DACA out of budget talks he’s basically ensured that DACA will either not happen or it will happen in a very narrow fashion. Neither of these outcomes is going to fire his base up for November.

I hope the DREAMers and their advocates are paying close attention here. The message is clear. You are illegal aliens and unless Congress acts you will remain illegal aliens. And Congress will act at its own deliberate speed because you can’t vote and no one really cares if you are mad.