Here are three fundamental factors to keep in mind as we seem headed towards a government shutdown:
- President Trump and the Republican leadership have rejected the bipartisan compromise proposals on the table that would alleviate the crisis. After creating a crisis by ending DACA and terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of several countries, Trump asked for a bipartisan congressional solution and, during his televised meeting, he promised to support it. Two days later, a bipartisan Senate group presented a proposal tailored to the four policy areas the White House demanded. But Trump, under pressure from Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House aide Stephen Miller and anti-immigrant lawmakers, rejected the deal, with the President going on a racist rant to boot. In the House, a bipartisan approach has dozens of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors and offers a good faith way forward for Dreamers and on border security. These are legitimate compromise bills that contain measures both sides favor and both sides dislike. That is the nature of compromise. The bottom line: there are workable bipartisan solutions on the table, but opposition from Trump and Republican leaders has blocked their enactment. It’s time for them to realize that the American people don’t want a government shutdown, we want a policy breakthrough.
- Senator John Cornyn and his hardline allies are up to their same old tricks, working to delay and derail a bipartisan breakthrough. In December, we described the “Cornyn Con” on immigration. Here’s how it works: Cornyn pretends to be a good faith negotiating partner in immigration policy discussions. Cornyn then poisons the policy debate on the inside by making unreasonable demands, blames Democrats and Republicans for not acceding to his demands, and then takes as many Republicans as possible with him in order to kill off bipartisan progress. The “Cornyn Con” has been used by the senior senator from Texas in 2006, 2007, and 2013. He’s at it again, counseling Senate Republicans to oppose a bipartisan way forward, obstructing progress in the back room, and preening and posturing in public about the progress being made. Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Goodlatte is up to his old tricks, advancing a wishlist of poison pill provisions in a House bill that anti-immigrant Republicans are rallying around. The Goodlatte bill has exactly zero chance of ever passing into law, and zero chance of getting one Democratic vote. It is yet another way to undermine legislative progress around a bipartisan compromise.
- President Trump created this crisis; he refuses to get to yes on a solution; and Republicans control the White House, the House and the Senate. It looks like Trump just may get the shutdown he has long said he wants. If that’s the case, it will be the first time in American history where the government shuts down with one party in control of the White House and both congressional chambers. After ending DACA and rejecting solutions, he has given wildly contradictory signals on policy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly complained that Republicans are still waiting for Trump to clarify what he’s for. To add insult to injury, he has poisoned the atmosphere on Capitol Hill – and around the world – with his racist rant. Republican leaders, who have been complicit enablers of Trump, need to step up to do what only they can do: pass legislation that resolves the range of outstanding spending and policy issues, and include a bipartisan immigration deal as part of that global deal.