Democrats United In Opposition To Trump’s Shutdown Offer

Not surprisingly, the President's proposed shutdown deal is not being received well by Democrats on Capitol Hill.

As the Federal Government enters its thirty-first day, it’s clear that Democrats are united in their opposition to the plan put on the table by President over the weekend:

What they’re saying: Senior White House officials told Axios their strategy — conceived largely by Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence — was to get Trump’s “compromise” immigration bill through the Senate with an overwhelming vote and then pressure House Democrats to break from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But the Democrats have a consensus: No immigration talks until the government is back open. Even the moderates who sometimes break with the party, including Sens. Joe Manchin and Chris Coons, are sticking with leadership on this, for now at least.

  • White House officials and Republicans close to leadership have privately admitted to Axios, since Trump’s Saturday announcement, that they don’t see how they win over the seven Senate Democrats they need to support this bill.
  • Democrats are blunt. Steve Elmendorf, one of the top Democratic lobbyists in Washington D.C., told Axios, “Why would any Senate Democrat vote for a bill that was not negotiated with any Senate Democrat?” (Kushner and Pence consulted Democrats, but they weren’t at the negotiating table; this is a Trump offer.)
  • “I think it’s totally impossible,” Elmendorf said, when asked if he saw any chance of seven Senate Democrats backing Trump’s offer.
  • “This could be a basis to have a meeting. … He should have another meeting and present this offer, and let them talk about what they’re willing to do.”

Some analysts argued on the Sunday shows that Trump’s proposal was aimed mainly at moderate Democrats in the House, such as members of the so-called House “Problem Solvers Caucus” that he met with last week and Senators such as Joe Manchin and Doug Jones, who arguably somewhat more conservative than the rest of their colleagues. Based on the initial reactions we’re seeing, though, there doesn’t appear to be any movement of consequence at all on the Democratic side and, most importantly, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have remained united throughout the shutdown as Republican efforts to drive a wedge between the two have largely failed. There is some indication, meanwhile, that we’re likely to see some kind of counterproposal from the Democrats when Congress reconvenes on Tuesday. In all likelihood, though that proposal is likely to be basically the same as the response we’ve seen since the President’s speech, namely that the government should be reopened before there is any negotiation over immigration issues, and that such negotiations should include not just temporary solutions to the twin problems of the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protective Status (TPS) programs but permanent ones, as well as broader negotiations on other immigration issues such as border security and the status of the 11 million or more undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom did not get here via illegal border crossings.

On the Republican side of the aisle, meanwhile, Senate Republicans, many of whom were showing signs of cracking last week, have lined up behind the President’s proposal, which the Senate will be voting on this week. In all likelihood, the measure will fail because it will fail to get the sixty votes needed to invoke cloture. The GOP knows this, of course, but it’s clear that this entire strategy is political rather than being anything aimed at having a realistic chance of reopening the government and that they are hoping that the President’s proposal will somehow turn the political tide on Democrats:

WASHINGTON — President Trump attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday for rejecting his proposal to end the partial government shutdown, as he and Republican leaders in Congress sought to put Democrats on defense, a place they have rarely been during the shutdown stalemate.

In a series of morning tweets, Mr. Trump said Ms. Pelosi had behaved “so irrationally” in spurning his offer to restore the temporary protections he took away from some undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall. He also pushed back against conservative critics who called the plan amnesty for immigrants who came to the United States illegally.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, plans to bring up legislation as early as Tuesday that would wrap Mr. Trump’s proposal into a broader package that would include billions of dollars in disaster relief and immediately reopen the government, an aide said. The move is intended to ratchet up pressure on Democrats, who have insisted they will not negotiate with Mr. Trump until the shutdown is over.

“President Trump has put forward a serious and reasonable offer to reform parts of our broken immigration system and reopen government,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, said on Twitter. “The moment now turns to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The country is watching.”

But there was little indication from Democrats, who have denounced Mr. Trump’s plan as “hostage taking,” that they would abandon that position.

“If he opens up the government, we’ll discuss whatever he offers, but hostage taking should not work,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told reporters in New York on Sunday, adding, “It’s very hard to negotiate when a gun is held to your head.”

With the shutdown now in its fifth week, and 800,000 federal employees still furloughed or working without pay, pressure is rising on both Republicans and Democrats to end it. If it lasts until Friday, Congress will be forced to reckon with another grim milestone: Affected workers will miss their second paycheck.

As Republicans go on offense in the Senate, Democrats will stay on offense in the House, where they have already passed a string of government funding bills that Mr. McConnell — who has largely remained on the sidelines during the shutdown debate — has refused to take up. On Wednesday, Ms. Pelosi plans to bring up a package of six bills to fund shuttered government agencies, ignoring Mr. Trump’s requests.

The measures gained approval last year from Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; in effect, Ms. Pelosi will be daring Republicans to vote against their own legislation. Democrats will also begin talking more about their own vision for border security — a shift in strategy for a party that has focused mostly on the economic and personal toll of the shutdown.

But there was little indication from Democrats, who have denounced Mr. Trump’s plan as “hostage taking,” that they would abandon that position.

“If he opens up the government, we’ll discuss whatever he offers, but hostage taking should not work,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told reporters in New York on Sunday, adding, “It’s very hard to negotiate when a gun is held to your head.”

With the shutdown now in its fifth week, and 800,000 federal employees still furloughed or working without pay, pressure is rising on both Republicans and Democrats to end it. If it lasts until Friday, Congress will be forced to reckon with another grim milestone: Affected workers will miss their second paycheck.

As Republicans go on offense in the Senate, Democrats will stay on offense in the House, where they have already passed a string of government funding bills that Mr. McConnell — who has largely remained on the sidelines during the shutdown debate — has refused to take up. On Wednesday, Ms. Pelosi plans to bring up a package of six bills to fund shuttered government agencies, ignoring Mr. Trump’s requests.

The measures gained approval last year from Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; in effect, Ms. Pelosi will be daring Republicans to vote against their own legislation. Democrats will also begin talking more about their own vision for border security — a shift in strategy for a party that has focused mostly on the economic and personal toll of the shutdown.

This comes, of course, in the face of polling that shows that the majority of Americans blame the President for the shutdown, which seems fitting considering that he said that he would be proud to own a shutdown if it occurred prior to when it started. So far at least, those same polls do not show the blame rubbing off on Congressional and Senate Republicans but it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before that happens, especially if the damage to the President ends up being a long-term problem, which certainly seems possibly the longer the shutdown goes on. The problem with that is two-fold.

First of all, the Democrats seem to be taking the perfectly reasonable position that they are willing to negotiate regarding immigration issues, including border security, but that the government needs to be reopened first. As I’ve said before this seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable position and, as the stories about Federal Government workers trying to do things like pay bills and provide for their families while not getting paid, whether they’re working or not, it strikes me that public opinion is likely to stay on their side. Part of the reason for that, of course, is that this shutdown is happening not because of spending issues, or because of the budget deficit, national debt, or some other fiscal issue. It’s happening because one party, the President of the United States is essentially holding the Federal Government hostage over a policy issue that is, at best, tangentially related to budget issues themselves and certainly not related to the spending that would be allocated to departments and agencies other than the Department of Homeland Security. We saw the same thing when Ted Cruz and a handful of House Republicans tried unsuccessfully to use a shutdown to target the Affordable Care Act. This time its an equally quixotic attempt to get money for a border wall that is never going to be built, that isn’t needed, and that Mexico isn’t going to pay for. To that, the President has now added DACA and TPS. As I said on Saturday, these are all important policy issues but it’s not justification for shutting down the government, assuming there is any such justification. No President. Senator or Member of Congress should be permitted to hold government funding hostage over a policy position. Today it’s a Republican refusing to reopen the government if he doesn’t get his way on immigration. How will the GOP react if a Democrat did the same thing over a policy idea they oppose? If the President wants to negotiate an immigration deal that includes border security, then he can do so after the government has been reopened. Given the reality of the situation, this isn’t where we find ourselves but it’s certainly where we should be.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, we have the President on video saying that he would not only welcome a shutdown but that he would gladly own it in order to get a measly $5.7 billion for a wall that will never be completed and which doesn’t address real issues regarding illegal immigration and drug running. Unless Democrats totally mess things up politically, which they have not done as of yet, then it seems clear that public opinion is likely to continue holding the President responsible for a shutdown that shows no sign of ending soon. As I said the other day, perhaps Democrats should approach this Presidential offer a bit more openly and take it as an invitation to open negotiations. Putting a counterproposal on the table would be the best way to do that, but reopening the government ought to be at the top of that list before anything else is even discussed.

 

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. al Ameda says:

    “President Trump has put forward a serious and reasonable offer to reform parts of our broken immigration system and reopen government,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, said on Twitter. “The moment now turns to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The country is watching.”

    The Media writ-large has been inconsistent in pointing out that what Trump is putting on the table here is almost nothing – temporary reinstatement of DACA protections, protections that he rescinded as soon as he became president. And, he’s proposing that Temporary Nuevo DACA be effective for 2 years.

    Acceptance of this ‘deal’ is more or less equivalent to accepting letting him burn down half your house instead of the whole house, and agreeing to let you pay the ransom in 4 easy installment payments.

    15
  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    No matter what you think of the deal…and I think it’s BS…you can’t do anything until the government is opened. If you give Individual-1 his way, then he will shut down the government for anything he wants but isn’t smart enough to get any other way.
    If your kid is demanding 200 oreos or he won’t do his homework, you don’t give him 200 oreos.
    Shame that dealing with Individual-1 is tantamount to the basic parenting of an infant, but that’s where we are at.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    I’ve heard all my life that we get the government we deserve. So it goes.

  4. Mikey says:

    @JohnMcC: What you’ve got is a government staffed by hundreds of thousands of dedicated professionals who are still reporting for duty and ensuring the basic functions of government proceed uninterrupted, despite not having any idea when they will be paid for that vital work.

    I’d say there are plenty of Americans who DON’T deserve that, but as you said, so it goes.

  5. Teve says:

    Tom Nichols
    @RadioFreeTom
    ·
    20h
    This shutdown is not about a wall. It’s not about security. It’s not even about the budget.
    It’s about how long Mitch McConnell wants to let Ann Coulter be president and Rush Limbaugh be the Senate Majority Leader.

  6. Teve says:

    @JohnMcC: sadly, 100% of us get the government that 46% of us deserve.

  7. KM says:

    Unless that wall is temporary as well, there’s no way on god’s green earth to pretend this is even remotely fair. It just goes to show there was never any real intention to “negotiate” in the first place. Real negotiations offer you something – hostage takers offer you what you had in the first place, albeit a little roughed up from the whole hostage take process.

    That conservatives hate it because it gives the appearance of conceding something they think Dems want is just sh^t icing on a rotten cake. They really do expect to get their way without giving anything up just because they expect Dems to save the country from Trump’s tantrum. We’re supposed to take the hit and accept whatever pablum they choose to toss us. Screw that – they started this, they refuse to be reasonable about this and we’re supposed to be the adults? Let them suffer for what suffering they’ve caused others. No deal!!

  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    This may be too clever by half, but I’d have the Senate Democrats vote for closure, but then vote against the bill itself:

    1.) With the hard right screaming “Amnesty”, there’s a good chance it fails to pass a majority vote with just Republican support, which is humiliating for Republican Senate leadership and the white house
    2.) The Democrats could then go out and say, “We gave the Senate a chance to vote on the Republican bill, isn’t America owed a vote on the Democrat bill”?
    3.) If it does pass, the house can just ammend it back to the original deal and pass it again, and then it goes to a conference committee so we’re back to square 1 and there was no loss for allowing the cloture

  9. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    It just goes to show there was never any real intention to “negotiate” in the first place.

    That was shown when Dennison’s position til now was “give me all I want and in return I’ll let you find a way to be okay with it.” This, in comparison, is progress. Microscopic progress.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Of course it’s not a real offer. Obviously. This bullsht has been properly rejected.

  11. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    There can never be a deal that sticks, Trump’s psychology includes the need to feel he wins, the other guy loses. His go-to tactic is to reneg on deals so he can feel he got away with pulling a fast one. The problem is, do that repeatedly and people figure you out.

    Trump can not be part of any negotiations, the need is to just ignore him and work around him.

  12. Teve says:

    Trump administration is posting photos to Facebook and Instagram that have been photoshopped to make him look skinnier and his hands bigger. Not kidding.

    Trump’s right shoulder has been slimmed down and his face is looking thinner. He’s also gotten a haircut—well, a digital one anyway—and in one of the strangest alterations, Trump’s fingers have been made slightly longer. Seriously.

    https://gizmodo.com/president-trump-posts-altered-photos-to-facebook-and-in-1831909849

  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    If Pelosi wants to kick the can back to the repubs, the House could pass a bill that gives Trump his billions for fencing, but at the same time grants citizenship for the DACAs and regarding TPS, insert a clause granting the house and senate the opportunity to review and suspend any administration decision to declare safe, countries from which individuals here under protective status come from.

    Heads would explode in the WH.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @charon:
    I agree. This is why I find it shocking that anyone could be left who still believes there’s any point in dealing with Trump. You cannot negotiate with pathological liars. You cannot negotiate with psychopaths. There is not a single thing to even discuss till the government is re-opened. And then the conversation is with McConnell, not Trump.

  15. CSK says:

    @charon: @Michael Reynolds:

    Didn’t Trump say in The Art of the Deal that the only good negotiation occurred when he walked away with 100% of what he wanted and the other side was left with nothing?

    He still thinks he’s running The Trump Organization, a ramshackle, corrupt fiefdom where
    the serfs (everyone else) obey him unquestioningly and his word is law. He doesn’t get the presidency. He thinks the White House is Trump Tower.

  16. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And then the conversation is with McConnell, not Trump.

    Why not go straight to the top, and negotiate with Coulter, Limbaugh and Hannity?

  17. charon says:

    @Kathy:

    Coulter and Limbaugh are bomb throwers who thrive on attention/ratings. To the extent they have any motivation, it’s to keep the shutdown going. Anything to stoke the anger of their audience is good as well.

  18. charon says:

    @charon:

    A big chunk of the GOP’s Original Sin is supporting and encouraging the right wing media bubble. Now the bill has come due, Frankenstein’s monster is off the leash.

  19. Teve says:

    @charon: exactly.

  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    @charon:

    Now the bill has come due, Frankenstein’s monster is off the leash.

    “If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate”

  21. grumpy realist says:

    What infuriates me is that this is, in effect, Trump holding the government hostage (with all the trickle-down effects) until the rest of the US does what he wants.

    Heck, is there anything that Trump is doing that wouldn’t be exactly what someone trying to disable the U.S. on orders from an outside enemy would do?

    We have to stop with this “essential employee” thing which shields the Congress and the POTUS from the consequences. Government shuts down? No TSA. No flights. No Air Force One. No secret service people. Nobody cleaning or cooking or janitoring at Congress or the White House. Make it HURT.

  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Government shuts down? No TSA. No flights. No Air Force One. No secret service people. Nobody cleaning or cooking or janitoring at Congress or the White House. Make it HURT.

    Or we could do what reasonable countries do, and what the US did prior to 1974, where in the absence of congressional direction otherwise, government funding continues at previous levels during a lapse in funding.

    10
  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    That should be 1980, not 1974.

  24. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    We have to stop with this “essential employee” thing which shields the Congress and the POTUS from the consequences.

    No shit. We should never have a “shutdown” that most Americans don’t notice. EVERYONE should be affected, not just those who continue to do their sworn duty with no pay.

    What we have now is most of America shielded from the effects of the “shutdown” by the free labor of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. This should not be.

  25. KM says:

    @Teve :
    Not surprised at all. The man had his doctor officially lie to the nation about his weight – such a petty, stupid thing but it clearly matters to him. He’ll suck down fast food left and right, wear terrible suits to “cover it up” but by god, fix those pics, he looks fat!!! Oh and can’t have small hands / fingers – that’s his pet peeve to a ridiculous degree. He’s so damn vain.

    It’s an alt-right meme too. Ben Garrison is fond of drawing him look svelte and strong. Breitbarters like to post pics of him photoshopped onto some buff guy’s bod – usually holding a gun he’d immediately shoot his leg off with if he touched. They really, really, really need him to look like the alpha he’d pretending to be… likely because most of them are on the wrong end of the dad bod scale.

  26. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    We have to stop with this “essential employee” thing which shields the Congress and the POTUS from the consequences.

    Not to mention is doubly unfair.

    I assume those on furlough can obtain another job while the government reopens. I know it won’t be a good job, given they don’t even know how long they’ll be able to do it. But that option is not available to those deemed “essential.”

    If it’s not slavery, working without compensation, in the strictest sense, it’s the next worst thing. Sure, an essential federal worker not receiving pay can quit. Bu then they’d lose their benefits and pension. For most, I assume, it would be better to tough it out and ride the shut down out.

    But what if the shut down goes on for another month, or two? Or what if Dennison shuts the government down every few months? There’s a breaking point for everything and everyone. How will you get good, quality employees for the government with shenanigans like these?

    BTW, could a bill be passed making the federal government assume responsibility for all bills incurred by federal employees not being paid due while the shut down goes on? That would provide some relief (yes, and a horrible precedent).

  27. Teve says:

    We have to stop with this “essential employee” thing which shields the Congress and the POTUS from the consequences.

    We should never have a “shutdown” that most Americans don’t notice. EVERYONE should be affected, not just those who continue to do their sworn duty with no pay.

    BTW, could a bill be passed making the federal government assume responsibility for all bills incurred by federal employees not being paid due while the shut down goes on? That would provide some relief (yes, and a horrible precedent).

    Uh…do you guys understand that those would all have to be laws passed by Congress, that would do nothing but hurt Congress?

  28. Gustopher says:

    @grumpy realist:

    We have to stop with this “essential employee” thing which shields the Congress and the POTUS from the consequences. Government shuts down? No TSA. No flights. No Air Force One. No secret service people. Nobody cleaning or cooking or janitoring at Congress or the White House. Make it HURT.

    I don’t understand why food inspectors are not essential, but airport security is. You can postpone a flight a lot longer than you can postpone eating.

    We need a lefty gadfly organization to start suing over the definition of essential. Something independent enough from the politicians, that they can all tut-tut it, so they aren’t defending cutting airport security and what not.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    It’s pretty easy to stay united against a failing con artist who lies the way that everyone else breathes…

  30. JohnMcC says:

    @An Interested Party: And on the other hand, despite the grave difficulties in staying united behind a lying, cheating, stupid and vain gentleman, there are some who manage to do so. And does anyone appreciate their efforts? I ask you.

  31. An Interested Party says:

    And does anyone appreciate their efforts?

    Poor unfortunate souls…