Democrats Have A Plan To End The Shutdown, But It’s Probably Dead On Arrival

Democrats have unveiled what appears as if it will be their first effort to end the shutdown, but there are already signs Republicans will reject it.

Democrats have unveiled a plan to reopen the government when they gain control of Congress on January 3rd, but it may already be dead on arrival:

WASHINGTON — House Democrats have agreed on a proposal to end the partial government shutdown that would extend current levels of funding for the Department of Homeland Security for several weeks but would not include money for President Trump’s border wall, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the proposal.

The plan, to be unveiled on Monday, will consist of six spending bills that include funding through the end of the fiscal year, plus a continuing resolution that extends Homeland Security funding through Feb. 8. The House is expected to vote on the package on Thursday, after the new Congress convenes with Democrats in control and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California sworn in as speaker.

While the measures are expected to pass the House, there is no guarantee the shutdown will soon end given the Senate is still firmly controlled by Republicans. Mr. Trump has stuck to his demand for wall funding, a position that would require Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, to break with Mr. Trump and bring the House plan for a vote. Mr. McConnell has already said he would not bring up a measure that does not have the president’s support.

“It’s simple,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell. “The Senate is not going to send something to the president that he won’t sign.”

Ms. Pelosi, meanwhile, has asserted that Democrats will not cave on the issue of wall funding.

“He’s not going to get a wall,” she said in a recent interview. “But he has to recognize, we are the first branch, Article 1, the legislative branch, and we’re here not as a rubber stamp to the executive branch but are coequal to him.”

On Monday, Mr. Trump again emphasized that the border wall was integral to national security, calling the southern border an “open wound.”

“I campaigned on Border Security, which you cannot have without a strong and powerful Wall,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Our Southern Border has long been an ‘Open Wound,’ where drugs, criminals (including human traffickers) and illegals would pour into our Country.”

By passing only a short-term funding extension for the Homeland Security Department, Democrats would effectively prolong the divisive debate over the wall — and potentially open a path for progressives to push for a broader immigration overhaul.

That could complicate the early days of Ms. Pelosi’s leadership, but Democrats say they hope their plan will draw a sharp contrast between them and Mr. Trump, by projecting an image of a responsible party trying to govern in a capital ruled by a president who thrives on unpredictability.

Politico has more detail on the Democrat’s plans but also reports that the odds that this plan will be successful, at least in its first attempt, seem to be fairly low:

House Democrats will propose a two-part plan to reopen the federal government once they take power on Thursday, according to multiple Democratic aides. The proposal, however, won’t provide President Donald Trump with his much sought-after border money boost.

Their plan would fund the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 8, and all other closed agencies — such as Transportation, Commerce and Agriculture — for the rest of the fiscal year through Sept. 30.

Democrats intend to vote on the plan Thursday, the same day they officially wrest control of the House from Republicans. But the Senate won’t accept the measures absent an unlikely presidential endorsement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made clear that the chamber will only vote on a bill that has Trump’s full support. Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, reiterated that stance when asked about Pelosi’s plans on Monday.

“It’s simple: The Senate is not going to send something to the president that he won’t sign” Stewart said.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a House conservative who is close with Trump, blasted the measure as a “nonstarter” on Monday afternoon.

“Nancy Pelosi’s newest funding proposal doesn’t represent any serious attempt to secure our border or find a compromise,” Meadows posted on Twitter.

Pelosi did not confer with McConnell before making her move, which she plans to make public later Monday. Senate Democrats intend to support Pelosi’s plan to fund the government, according to a senior Democratic aide.

On the eve of a power shift in the House, Democratic leaders are taking their first public step toward ending the logjam that has shuttered nine federal agencies. It’s an attempt to restart negotiations that have been remarkably lifeless throughout most of the 10-day shutdown, which began the weekend before Christmas.

Trump on Monday, however, posted on Twitter that Democrats need to “come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security.”

He wrote that he was in the Oval Office, though pool reporters noted that there was no Marine posted outside that section of the White House, the usual indicator that the president is there

On paper at least, the Democratic plan makes sense. In the end, the only thing that remains in dispute between Democrats (and some Republicans) and the President and his supporters on Capitol Hill is the issue of funding the President’s border wall, which would be considered part of the budget for the Department of Homeland Security. Given that, there is no reason why Congress should not fully fund the rest of the government that is unrelated to the wall. This includes things such as funding for the Federal Judiciary and four other departments of the Federal Government that are currently being impacted by the shutdown due to the fact that their spending bills for the entire Fiscal Year were not passed before Congress left town before the midterm elections back in late September. The Democratic plan would leave the DHS budget on a short-term basis, along with a resolution of the debate about the border, but it would mean that the majority of the impact of the shutdown would be mitigated for departments that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. The problem that this leaves Republicans, of course, is that if they agree to this plan then they lose the small degree of leverage they continue to have regarding this shutdown, namely the abiity to claim, albeit falsely, that Democrats and those opposed to the wall are holding up funding 25% of the Federal Government over what seems like the paltry amount of $5 billion. Because of that, it’s unlikely that this plan will be well-received by the White House.

What all of this means, of course, is that the solution to the current shutdown remains where it has been since all of this began, with the President of the United States. He is the one who insisted more than a week before it began that he would not accept any bill that didn’t include funding for his border wall and that he would happily accept responsibility for a shutdown in such circumstance. In the time since then, of course, the President, Republicans on Capitol Hill, and loyal Republican and “conservative” pundits have sought to blame Democrats in general, and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer specifically for a shutdown that is clearly the responsibility of the President and his Republican supporters in Congress. Based on recent polling, that effort has proven to be unsuccessful as the public has clearly placed the largest amount of the blame for the shutdown on the President, with Republicans on Capitol Hill not far behind and House and Senate Democrats a distant third. The longer this shutdown goes on, the more apparent that becomes. The proposal that Democrats are putting forward here is, as I said, entirely reasonable. If the President and the Republicans reject it, then it’s clear that they are not honestly seeking to end this shutdown.

 

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    On paper at least, the Democratic plan makes sense. In the end, the only thing that remains in dispute between Democrats (and some Republicans) and the President and his supporters on Capitol Hill is the issue of funding the President’s border wall, which would be considered part of the budget for the Department of Homeland Security. Given that, there is no reason why Congress should not fully fund the rest of the government that is unrelated to the wall.

    Taking that argument to its reductionist conclusion, the only thing that they differ on in the budget for DHS is the wall, so they should fund all the non-wall parts of DHS.

    In other words, the Republicans should cave immediately, and then seek funding for the wall separately (with a compromise of funding something the Democrats want)

    While I agree with that, I suspect the Republicans would not.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    There’s been a deal on the table at various times: some wall money for DACA. But DACA will be called ‘amnesty’ by the right-wing media, so Trump will reject it. What else can Trump offer Democrats? And how/why would we possibly negotiate with a man whose promises expire the minute they escape his lips?

  3. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The other day Matt Yglesias made the obvious yet often overlooked point that the DACA-wall deal has always been bound to fail because most Republicans don’t care about the wall; it’s just theater and has no real value to them as policy. Therefore, they’d be effectively giving the Dems something for nothing. Trump may not view it that way, but it’s a good bet all or nearly all the Republicans in Congress do.

    12
  4. Teve says:

    As of the closing bell today it’s official. US stocks had their worst year since 2008.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    If the President and the Republicans reject it, then it’s clear that they are not honestly seeking to end this shutdown.

    That the Republicans are not seeking (honestly or otherwise) to end this shutdown is simply a given in my mind. Pass and send forward the bill the Senate passed before Christmas and let the GOP dangle with Trump if that’s what they wish to do.

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: All the more reason to just pass the original resolution, and here’s the explanation:

    Your House of Representatives was unwilling to accept the offer made by your Senate. Our House is willing to accept it. The choice is yours, Mr. Trump.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: At this point it is a free no consequence opportunity to beat trump over the head with an immigration bill bat. What political leader in their right mind wouldn’t?

  8. Moosebreath says:

    The thought that Mark Meadows is complaining about someone else not being willing to compromise means that 2019 is off to a good start.