Politico Reporter: The Democrats Lost This Shutdown

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 12:45 PM

By now, you know the Democrats have lost the shutdown fight. They called an audible and got sacked. They were forced to vote for a spending bill that was pretty much a carbon copy of the resolution they rejected last Friday, albeit with one fewer week of funding. The point is a vote will be held on fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program the right way, but that was going to happen. Republicans know that DACA protections are going to have to be addressed. There’s a consensus on that. How to move forward with Democratic proposals is another thing. But a fix is coming (or so they say), and the enforcement deadline doesn’t strike until March. In September of 2017, citing its constitutionally shaky foundation, the Trump White House said they would gradually wind down the Obama-era program. They included a six-month enforcement delay. This is why everyone was left scratching their heads. The deadline is weeks away. It has nothing to do with the budget, but let’s shut it down because…resist. That seemed to be the Democratic mindset with this shutdown. Also, they had no messaging, something that’s elemental. My guess: the Democrats thought this could be easily blamed on the GOP, given they control Congress, but CNN, of all places, reminded their viewers over the weekend that you need 60 votes to advance anything in the Senate; Democrats really couldn’t spin that this was just unnecessary—tying illegal immigration to matters of the budget. This course of action is even more damning since Democrats trashed this sort of legislative initiative five years ago, saying it would breed chaos. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made that point on ABC’s This Week. 

With media support tepid and polling showing that voter were increasingly seeing Democrats as the culprits, the shutdown ended in an 81-18 vote for the spending measure. The House then quickly passed it, ending the three-day shutdown. Many in the media said this was a total cave by Democrats and a complete waste of time. They’re not wrong. Donald J. Trump won this fight. 

It’s one thing when a shutdown fight is over spending, debt ceiling negotiations, or Obamacare repeal. While government shutdowns aren’t necessarily good either, it’s certainly easier to show voters why you’re doing it. Getting government spending under control or rail against an unpopular health care overhaul certainly seem like better reasons to shutdown the government than say protect illegal aliens, to put their interests over those of American citizens. That’s much harder to defend in this scenario. It also put red state Democrats in jeopardy and they’re already going to be fighting for their political lives. Politico’s Rachael Bade has more, she says the Democrats got hosed. Oh, and while the GOP said a DACA fix was already on the books, there was no deal to be voted on during the shutdown. Now, that’s passed, it’s all about whether the Senate can craft a DACA fix that’s palatable to the House. One thing that is probably going to happen in some shape or form is that Democrats will fund a border wall in exchange for a DACA fix (UPDATE: Democrats moving away from that now):

Democrats lost the shutdown war. That much was obvious when they voted Monday to reopen the government with little to show for it. They had vowed for weeks not to back any funding bill without a bipartisan agreement to protect so-called Dreamers. But as Washington entered Day Three of a government shutdown, Democrats folded, voting to reopen the government barely any closer to their goal.

Republicans declared victory.

"We gave them nothing,” said Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee. “We’ve been able to get our message out as Republicans as a whole and be consistent and be united on this front."

Added Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a top member of the Senate Appropriations Committee: "Nobody wins in a shutdown, and this time, surely the Democrats didn't win."

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who had been meeting with numerous senators to try to find a way out of the mess, was a bit more gentle toward Democrats. "They took off, but they didn't know whether they were gonna land," he said. "So we gave them a place where they could land."

Yet Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) couldn't resist taunting Democrats: "Sure, they got a commitment from Sen. [Mitch] McConnell, the majority leader, to take up the immigration bill in February. He was going to do that anyway."

Speaking with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, Bade reiterated that the Democrats lost this battle. Since December, the Democratic Party vowed to not pass another stopgap measure, even a clean one, until DACA, FISA, and Children’s Health Insurance Program was addressed. It’s been addressed or will be soon. CHIP is funded for six years, FISA will be renewed, and DACA is going to be fixed as well. Nothing has changed. No positions have shifted. The Democrats just wanted to nuke the Capitol for a few days to get nothing in return, only to stop when the media and polling wasn’t all that onboard with this whole exercise. Shutdown Chuck isn’t the best quarterback on these things it would seem.