Immigration aside, I think the merits of the deal really significantly outweigh the demerits. The really hard part is the intersection with the DREAMers, and there are questions there that I don’t know the answers to.
If the deal goes down due to a combination of Democrats voting against and Republicans on the right going against it, the question is: What happens then? Does that lead us to a positive deal on the DREAMers? If there is a government shutdown, what happens then?
When we had a three-day shutdown I was struck by the viciousness with which the White House turned against proposals for DREAMer relief. If the public both supports the DREAMers and opposes the shutdown, does it build more public pressure on behalf of the DREAMers or move public sentiment against them?
I am struck by the fact that historically shutdowns have not succeeded in helping those on the Hill who want something they’re not getting from the president. In 1995-’96, Gingrich lost and Clinton won. The thing that is also striking me is that all Pelosi was asking was for Ryan to agree to what McConnell agreed to weeks ago, to at least have a debate and vote. It’s stunning that Ryan isn’t willing to agree to that.
There’s Republican control of the House, Senate, and White House, Ryan says he won’t do anything Trump doesn’t want, and Trump seemingly continues to act like an adolescent on these issues. He’s the one who started this by withdrawing DACA protection. Then he said he wanted to solve it, and said what he wanted. Sens. Durbin [D-IL] and Graham [R-SC] came up with a plan that did that, and he rejected that. He rejects every deal coming out of the Hill.
With the current lineup of forces, what is the strategy that would work with the DREAMers? It isn’t clear to me that there’s a strategy that Democrats and pro-DREAMer Republicans on the Hill could take that would make Ryan move. I hope that’s wrong. It’s possible that the only move here is through the ballot box in November. But I really expected movement on a bipartisan front well before this, and they just keep blocking it.
I think there are some who are rightly upset and outraged. There’s a search: If only Democrats adhere to strategy X, they will back down. The only strategy that will force a move is even stronger mobilization of public opinion across the country on behalf of the DREAMers and in opposition to the president’s stance. It’s not clear to me what’s the strategy that would work. I’m not sure what it is. That’s part of what makes this so difficult.
Indeed, I would push this farther. It’s not just Trump — a lot of House Republicans simply oppose protecting DREAMers, and even assuming arguendo Ryan isn’t one of them he doesn’t want to alienate votes he needs for issues that are a higher priority, like upper-class tax cuts. At this point, it’s safe to conclude that the alleged “bipartisan” support to protect DREAMers is like the alleged “bipartisan” support for health care reform — it vanishes anytime there’s an actual concrete deal on the table.
House Republicans have controlled the House since 2011. If they favored protecting DREAMers, they would have done it. They haven’t done it because they don’t support it. Could a shutdown compel them to support it? We don’t know with absolute certainty, but we do know that 1)the strategy has a terrible historical track record and 2)I have no reason to think Pelosi doesn’t know what she’s doing.