Monday, January 22, 2018

The Democrats Relent
The federal government will likely reopen by Tuesday after Senate Democrats accepted an offer from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end their filibuster of a stopgap spending bill.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Atlantic
January 22 at 1:21 p.m. ET

Senate Democrats have given in.

A three-day shutdown of the federal government is about to end after Senate Democrats dropped their filibuster of a stopgap spending bill and accepted an offer from the Republican leadership to debate an immigration proposal by early February.

“The Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement: We will vote today to reopen the government,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said early Monday afternoon.

An overwhelming majority of the Senate voted, 81-18, early Monday afternoon to advance legislation to fund the government for the next three weeks, through February 8. A final vote is expected shortly, and House Republican leaders have indicated they’ll swiftly pass the measure and send it to President Trump for his signature.

In an offer made Sunday night, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell committed that if Democrats reopened the government, the Senate would consider legislation by  the next funding deadline that would provide legal status for young immigrants about to lose their protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Schumer initially balked at the proposal, and liberal activists quickly panned the offer as an “empty promise” from a GOP leader who was either unwilling or unable to deliver an immigration deal that could pass Congress.

“We’ve heard this record before, just last month in fact,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who spoke on a conference call with other top progressive activists urging Democrats to stand their ground. “It’s simply the same broken record repeating the same broken promises. Democrats must not dance to Mitch McConnell’s tune.”

A bipartisan group of senators sought stronger assurances from McConnell, and by the early afternoon vote, enough Democrats were apparently satisfied. Yet there was little they could do to sugarcoat the outcome: Democrats will come out of the shutdown with nothing more than a commitment to address immigration on the Senate floor in a process that is “neutral and fair to all sides”—not necessarily to pass a bill that will give citizenship to Dreamers, nor a promise that such a bill would survive the more conservative House and earn Trump’s signature.

“While this procedure will not satisfy all on both sides, it’s a way forward,” Schumer said. “I’m confident that we can get the 60 votes in the Senate for a DACA bill. And now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate. It is a good solution, and I will vote for it.”

Schumer’s agreement with McConnell does not have the support of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi or the party whip, Steny Hoyer, according to an aide, because Speaker Paul Ryan has not made the same commitment to put an immigration bill up for a vote. But Pelosi and Hoyer won’t urge all Democrats to vote no, and the bill should pass easily in the House with most Republicans on board.

In an early indication of the Democratic divide, votes opposing the agreement on Monday came from some of the caucus’s most liberal members as well as those likely to consider presidential bids in 2020, including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kamala Harris of California.  “I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word,” Harris said in a statement, referring to McConnell. “I will do everything in my power to continue to protect Dreamers from deportation.”


RUSSELL BERMAN is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers political news. He was previously a congressional reporter for The Hill and a Washington correspondent for The New York Sun.

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