How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Shutdown

While most Americans are frantically trying to get their holiday decorations up, cookies baked and presents purchased, Congress is also feeling the squeeze. With just days before the Christmas recess Republicans are working hard to get their tax bill to President Donald Trump’s desk while also striking a deal with Democrats to keep the government’s lights on.

With conferees squirreled away working on an agreement to meld the House and Senate tax reform bills, the real challenge appears to be getting Democrats to negotiate a spending bill. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) the second-ranking Senate Democrat and lead negotiator on spending matters didn’t exactly set a conciliatory tone, urging colleagues to join him in blocking any spending bill that doesn’t resolve the legal status of the “Dreamers,” a group of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.

For their part, Republicans have been working hard on an agreement with Democrats on a legislative fix for the Dreamers. The compromise measure would grant permanent status for the young undocumented immigrants, while also including some enforcement provisions to reduce illegal immigration and shifting toward a system that focused on economic needs rather than family ties.

But Democrats don’t want the give-and-take of an immigration negotiation. In their minds that would rob them from the ability to take credit for the fix. So rather than work across the aisle, Democrats are instead demanding that it be included in the upcoming spending bill, and they’re willing to shut down the government to make sure it happens.

Unsurprisingly, given the political nature of their demand, the frontrunners for the Democrat presidential nomination are locked in battle to see who can be the most intransigent. Let’s take a look at some of the hypocrisy:

Bernie Sanders

  • Shot: “It is becoming increasingly possible that for the first time in the history of our country the United States will become a deadbeat nation, precipitating a national and international financial crisis. If a default occurs, it is likely that interest rates will spike for home mortgages, car loans, student loans and credit cards. It is possible that the stock market will plunge, deeply impacting pension programs and household savings. This must not be allowed to happen.”
  • Chaser: “I won’t vote for any spending bill without a permanent DACA fix.”

Cory Booker

  • Shot: “[W]e need people that will raise the debt ceiling and not play this shutdown politics that plays with the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
  • Chaser:  “I want solutions to protect these kids, and won’t vote for a spending bill that doesn’t include one.”

Elizabeth Warren

  • Shot: “When the government is shut down, it costs this country literally billions, even trillions of dollars. We miss out on all kinds of contracts. We shut things down that mean that tourists can’t come. It’s everywhere.”
  • Chaser: Warren made a vow to not support a spending package that didn’t resolve DACA. And she was one of a handful of Democrats who didn’t even vote in favor of a short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown this week.

Kirsten Gillibrand

  • Shot: “This is much more like what I deal with Henry in the morning when he says he wants to say, “I want candy for breakfast.” It’s really a tantrum; it’s a tea party tantrum. “You either give me my way, or we’re going to shut down government.” 
  • Chaser: If Republicans refuse to do the right thing and protect Dreamers in this must-pass bill, then I’m going to vote against the bill.

In the name of trying to out-maneuver one another to prove their liberal bona fides, these candidates are forgetting what’s really important: Working on behalf of the American people. Stop trying to claim credit, start working across the aisle, and for goodness sakes, keep the government open.


Photo credit: NCPA photos. See more of their work HERE.