Chuck Schumer, Shut Down

Democrats running for President vote to keep the government closed.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer walks to his office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 22.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer walks to his office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 22. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Over in the department of futile and stupid gestures, the Senate on Monday voted 81-18 to end the government shutdown that Democrats had insisted on late last week. The politics apparently didn’t turn out to be the winner the Democrats anticipated, so they bailed out and called retreat a victory.

The Senate and House passed a resolution to fund the government through Feb. 8. Both parties will continue to negotiate a deal on the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the law-abiding young adults who came to the U.S. as children. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would bring some immigration measure to the floor, and Democrats are calling this a shutdown triumph. But the negotiations were already underway, and President Trump has said he wants a deal to legalize the Dreamers. The shutdown needlessly roiled immigration politics.

Some 15 Democrats plus Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) voted to keep the shutdown going. They include several of the multitude of Democratic presidential aspirants in addition to Mr. Sanders : Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. This crew wants to tout their credentials as fighters for the Dreamers, and they’d rather have a wedge issue than a solution. 

Also voting against opening the government were Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. This is a reminder that the 51-seat GOP majority is really a 49-seat minority given that those two might stage a protest vote at any moment for no useful purpose.

The pressure to open the government came from Democrats running for re-election in Trump states: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and others. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer exposed these Senators to placate his progressive base, and then he caved on the shutdown and ended up with the approval of neither.

Mr. Trump also helped over the weekend by keeping his tweets on message with Republicans in Congress, and not lashing out. He and Congress can now resume negotiating a two-year budget deal, particularly increased spending on defense. Congress has also bought more time to work out an immigration deal that can pass both houses, and the natural trade is legal status for Dreamers in exchange for more border security and limits on adult family migration. But for now the great news is that readers can move on with their lives without more of this fake drama.

Appeared in the January 23, 2018, print edition.

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