Democrats’ politically risky scheme to hold U.S. government operations hostage to their demand that young illegal aliens be granted amnesty failed spectacularly yesterday as lawmakers voted to re-open the briefly shuttered government.
Just 69 hours into the shutdown – most of the time passed over the weekend when few Americans even noticed the government was closed – Democrats and other open-borders lawmakers staged a tactical retreat, handing President Trump and anti-amnesty conservatives a clear victory. Democrats no doubt were aware of a Harvard-Harris poll that found 58 percent of voters opposed to the Democrat-led shutdown.
Democrats got essentially nothing in exchange for voting to re-open the government, which made the Republican triumph even sweeter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made an unenforceable promise to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring an immigration bill to the floor – he said merely that it was his intention to do so – if a compromise cannot be made regarding the illegals before government funding runs out again.
“I doubted it was possible, but Dems have actually lost a shutdown fight,” tweeted Fox News commentator Brit Hume. “Schumer has agreed to end the filibuster in exchange for practically nothing. Make no mistake: Schumer & Dems caved. What a political fiasco.”
Republicans are almost never deemed “winners” of shutdown-based confrontations, but major left-wing activist groups almost universally acknowledged this time the GOP outmaneuvered Schumer who still managed to brag he was “confident” he could get 60 votes in the Senate for an amnesty bill.
Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the left-wing group Democracy for America, mocked Democrats for backing down from a fight.
"Today’s cave by some Senate Democrats was not only a stunning display of moral and political cowardice, it was a strategically incoherent move that demonstrates precisely why so many believe the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for anything," he said. "If you want to know why we lost in 2016 and why a Democratic wave in 2018 is far from guaranteed, despite the deep level of disgust for Donald Trump, look no further than this weak and profoundly disappointing cave from Senate Democrats."
It was Democrats’ single-minded obsession with securing amnesty for around 700,000 individuals who sought relief under the constitutionally suspect Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that led to the shutdown of the federal government at 12:01 a.m. Saturday for the first time in the Trump era. Trump said in September he planned to end DACA and gave Congress six months to find a legislative fix.
“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders, and insurance for vulnerable children,” President Trump said Monday afternoon in a press release.
“As I have always said, once the Government is funded, my Administration will work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.”
At 6:10 last night, the House of Representatives voted 266 to 150 to give final congressional approval to H.R. 195, which provides stopgap funding for the federal Leviathan through Feb. 8, and clears the way for furloughed federal employees to return to work today. On the Democrat side, 144 voted against the bill, while only 45 voted in favor of it. President Trump signed the bill into law hours later. Before H.R. 195, there had already been three stopgap spending bills this federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
In the afternoon, the Senate voted 81 to 18 to approve the temporary spending measure that previously contained language funding the government through Feb. 16. Before that, at lunchtime the Senate voted by an identical margin to end the Democrats’ filibuster and clear the way for the spending vote.
The stopgap legislation also funds the Clinton-era Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which used to be called the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). The welfare program provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children, but in practice the feds fund almost all of the program’s budget. Backed by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), CHIP came as a kind of bipartisan consolation prize for left-wingers in the wake of the Clintons’ failed health care takeover.
CHIP covered about 8.9 million children in 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The boondoggle, which cost $15.6 billion in 2016, applies to families earning too much for Medicaid eligibility but not enough for private health insurance. Funding for the program lapsed in the fall. H.R. 195 appears to allocate $124.2 billion for the program over a six-year period ending Sept. 30, 2023.
Many Democrats have been furiously emoting and virtue-signaling in order to depict the prospective granting of amnesty to youthful illegal aliens as a noble endeavor, instead of what it really is, namely, an obvious attempt to create new Democrat voters.
In a Senate floor speech that probably won’t play in Peoria, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin absurdly declared that granting legal status to DACA-eligible illegal aliens is “the civil rights issue of our time.”
“So many of you cast a vote that was very hard and very difficult, because you believed as I did that the issue of immigration, the issue of the DREAMers is the civil rights issue of our time,” said the Senate minority whip. “You stuck your necks out and said I’m willing to go on record even if it’s going to be hard to explain back home, and I will never forget that.”
There are around 700,000 DACA-eligible individuals who supposedly came as young people to the U.S. but they may be a subset of around 4 million or so so-called DREAMers, many of whom failed to apply for relief under DACA but could conceivably qualify under the kind of amnesty Democrats want. Contrary to what the word implies, DREAMers tend to be less educated and less established than typical Americans.
Democrats had wanted any funding legislation passed by Congress to provide legal certainty for the illegal aliens they intend to count on as future voters. Protecting DACA recipients is so important to the Left that Democrats have to “refuse to offer any votes for Republican spending bills that do not offer a fix for Dreamers and instead appropriate funds to deport them,” stated a secret strategy memo dated Jan. 8 revealed a few days ago. The document was co-authored by Center for American Progress Action Fund President Jennifer Palmieri and Executive Director Navin Nayak, both veterans of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
In other immigration news, on Friday the Supreme Court formally agreed to hear the government’s lawsuit to enforce Presidential Proclamation 9645 dated Sept. 24 that imposed visa restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Foreshadowing this moment, on Dec. 4 by a 7 to 2 vote in the proceeding, the high court swept aside two lower court stays hindering enforcement of the ban that applies largely to terrorism-infested Muslim-majority countries on national security-related grounds.
The case came out of a lawsuit brought by Hawaii, Dr. Ismail Elshikh, and the Muslim Association of Hawaii Inc. Elshikh, a Muslim imam, is reportedly a member of the North American Imam Federation (NAIF), “a fringe Islamic organization that has a board and current leadership stacked with radical Islamic connections.”
The order came as the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to bypass the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and directly take up its appeal of leftist San Francisco-based Judge William Alsup’s Jan. 9 ruling purporting to order the administration to continue taking renewal applications under DACA from status-holders who failed to meet an October deadline.
Federal lawyers say they cannot wait for the routinely-reversed Ninth Circuit to hear the case because that would take months and would “require the government to retain in place a discretionary policy that sanctions the ongoing violation of federal law by more than half a million people.”
Unless President Trump and congressional Republicans hold firm against amnesty, the case may soon become moot.