With the Schumer Shutdown heading into its third day, Democrats finally realized just how untenable their position was and promptly caved.
From the start of the negotiation Democrats overestimated their leverage. They believed that Americans’ desire for a DACA gave Democrats a mandate to pressure Republicans into taking a one-sided deal. What they assumed was that Americans’ would accept that scuffle as part of a larger fight over passing a continuing resolution to keep the government open.
Democrats pressed their luck in an attempt to extract leverage. And ultimately, it backfired. As both parties should know by now, Americans don’t like government shutdowns, especially ones that can clearly be traced to ploys to maximize a negotiating position in an unrelated policy matter.
It’s telling that the final vote wasn’t even close. The Senate passed a short-term continuing resolution that would keep the government open by a margin of 81-18. What’s more, Republicans didn’t have to give up nearly anything in order to get it done, merely promising to hold a vote on immigration legislation before the CR runs out on February 8.
Unsurprisingly, Democrat leadership is taking fire from all sides over the failed strategy that succeeded them earning them blame for the shutdown among moderate voters and blame for folding on DACA amongst the activist base. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Elana Schor report:
“I trust that because the leadership did it this way, that they must know something I don’t,” she said.
The turn of events Monday marked the most serious cracks in the unity Schumer has painstakingly built within his caucus since he became Democratic leader a year ago. After holding almost all Democrats together through fights over the Supreme Court, health care, taxes and even Friday’s vote that shut down the government, Schumer is now under attack from the left and confronting pointed criticism of his negotiating skill.
His performance resulted in a Democratic-led shutdown — and an agreement with McConnell that provided no guarantee of a new immigration law. …
But liberal groups were furious, threatening in a conference call with progressive senators on Monday to spend money against Schumer and his vulnerable incumbents this fall, according to a person on the call. Those groups put out barbed statements, with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee casting Schumer and supporters of his deal as “weak-kneed.”
“Weak-kneed” was actually one of the more milquetoast responses to Democrats’ collapse.
“Call it the #SchumerSellout,” Murshed Zaheed, political director of the liberal group CREDO Action said. “Hashtagged.”
Other groups called it a “bad, outrageous” deal, labeled Schumer “the worst negotiator in Washington,” and threatened to intervene in primary elections to sweep out moderate members.
The left’s reaction put Democrats in a no-win situation. To continue with an unpopular shutdown, with their messaging jumbled and their poll numbers tanking, would add further headwinds to what is already going to be a very difficult midterm season. There are 10 Democrats up for re-election this year in states Trump won in 2016, and each of them was facing increasing political pressure to reopen the government.
But those same moderate Democrats, if they fail to sufficiently answer the call of the #resistance, could face difficult primaries. That could mean long, drawn-out fights, spending money that could’ve been saved for the general election, and ultimately the selection of far-left candidates that can’t compete in red-leaning states.
At the start of this fight, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented: “I feel bad for [Sen. Schumer’s members. He’s painted them into a corner.”
He was exactly right. Democrats ultimately became ensnared in a lose-lose situation. And surprise…they lost.