SETH MICHAEL MEYER
Assistant News Editor
You read it right: The Stones are just as suited to give our politicians advice as any other pragmatic strategist. The advice is, “You can’t always get what you want,” from their song that carries the same name.
Last Monday, we saw the end of a government shutdown which lasted just three days. The questions on everyone’s minds are: “why did this happen?,” and “who’s to blame?”
The many news media sources (which by this point don’t try to hide their bias) tend to point blame at either President Donald Trump, who refused to sign a stopgap spending measure because it did not include money for his ‘yuge’ wall, or New York’s Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who voted against a successful bill that ended the government shutdown.
Schumer voted against the government revival because he wanted long-lasting plans to protect the “Dreamers” of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy set in place by former president Barack Obama.
It is simple to understand that Democrats caused the shutdown because of their ability to filibuster in the Senate. What isn’t so comprehensible is why some Democrats refused the bill that gave them a lot of what they wanted.
Holding 44 seats in the Senate, Democrats had and used their leverage to shutdown the government for the weekend. Like a cliché hostage situation, they had a few demands including a renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which services 8.9 million children according to a 2016 Medicaid report.
Republicans caved and decided on keeping CHIP funded for six more years and this is when it became a PR nightmare for Democrats. If you refuse a deal to end the shutdown and give nine million children healthcare, you are the bad guy.
But some Democrats, including Senator Schumer, would not give in, fighting for a long-term measure protecting 800,000 DACA recipients.
According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, DACA recipients paid about $2 billion in state and local tax. This, along with the guidelines of the Department of Homeland Security which prohibits criminals from applying for the DACA program, letting these young Dreamers become citizens is a no-brainer.
In an act of appeasement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced publicly that he will open the floor to debate about immigration in the coming weeks. This will give Democrats yet another chance to pursue the goal of creating a long-term solution for DACA.
After causing a short shutdown, the Democrats seemed to walk away with their pockets full. They were able to manage an extension of CHIP and a chance to save the Dreamers from a cruel, Trump-inspired fate. This came at the cost of putting millions of government workers on furlough and jeopardizing the CHIP program during negotiations.
Schumer and the strong-willed Democrats appear to have gotten all they wanted, especially if they want the Republicans to keep the majority after this midterm election.
As Slate’s Jim Newell explains, “A DACA fix is popular; shutting down the government over one is much less so, especially in many of the states Senate Democrats are trying to hold in November.”