Monday, January 22, 2018
Lauren Gambino and Ben Jacobs
But some progressives and immigration activists preferred another word: caved.
Three days after Democrats rejected a stop-gap bill because it did not include protections for Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants shielded by an Obama-era program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, they yielded, ending the first government shutdown in a half decade.
In a 81-18 vote on Monday, Democrats approved a three-week spending measure in exchange for a commitment from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who pledged to bring up legislation that would extend protections to Dreamers, whose status was thrown into chaos when Trump cancelled Daca in September.
The House passed the bill later on Monday, in a vote largely along party lines.
Dick Durbin, the No 2 Democrat in the Senate and one of the leading congressional advocates for Dreamers, saw the silver linings of the deal.
“Parts of this were a victory in terms of moving to immigration for the first time in five years, with a deadline, with an understood procedure with the other side acknowledging this is about Daca,” Durbin said. “They started using that word. Leader McConnell started using it today. It isn’t where I wanted to be today but I think we are closer to our goal than we’ve ever been.”
Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic nominee for vice-president, echoed this. “The commitment we made today is we’re going forward [on immigration] whether or not the president wants us to.”
Yet other Democrats were skeptical of leaving the fate of Dreamers in the hands of the Senate majority leader, who they do not trust, and the president, who has proved to be an unpredictable negotiator.
“I don’t believe he made any commitment whatsoever,” Kamala Harris, a senator from California who opposed the bill, said after the Senate advanced the measure. “And I think it would be foolhardy to believe that he made a commitment.”
Harris was among several progressive lawmakers and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who rejected the bill, including senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Democrats went into the weekend confident that voters were on their side. Public polling indicated that Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, would be held responsible.
But Trump and Republicans spent the days since the shut down attacking Democrats for prioritizing undocumented immigrants over members of the military.
“I think if we’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand and would not have understood in the future,” McConnell said in remarks on the floor on Monday.
In contrast to the 2013 government shutdown, when conservative Republicans threatened to close the government over Obamacare, Democrats did achieve some successes. They had long pushed for re-authorization of the children’s health insurance program (Chip) and the concession by McConnell for a floor vote on immigration could spur action on immigration while shifting the onus back on to Republicans.
This, however, didn’t not satisfy many in the party’s activist base, who accused lawmakers of betrayal.
“Last week, I was moved to tears of joy when Democrats stood up and fought for progressive values and for Dreamers,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a national immigration advocacy group. “Today, I am moved to tears of disappointment and anger that Democrats blinked.”
By Matt Fuller
It’s not really a cave if you’re just continuing the fight.
After Senate Democrats voted for a three-week government funding extension Monday, Republicans and liberal progressives seemed to agree about one thing: Democrats had caved.
Senate Democrats had, after all, voted to reopen the government without a legislative fix on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, and they had essentially accepted a deal that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was willing to give Democrats on Friday ― the soft promise of a vote on a DACA bill and a three-week government funding extension, not four.
But the truth is more complex than a winners and losers post. Yes, the liberal base may be upset that Democrats took less than a DACA fix in exchange for ending a shutdown, but that’s only relevant if you actually think Democrats could have gotten a DACA bill as a result of this shutdown ― and that the shutdown wasn’t hurting Democrats at all.
Republicans were happy to claim throughout this three-day government funding lapse that Democrats had made a strategic error in blocking a government funding bill, so it’s odd that, in GOP eyes, Democrats had also made an error in ending the shutdown. How is it that a shutdown was bad for moderate Democratic senators up for reelection and that ending a shutdown is also bad for those lawmakers?
It’s also inaccurate to say Democrats didn’t get anything over the last couple of days. McConnell made stronger statements in support of an open debate on a DACA bill on both Sunday night and Monday morning, making it more difficult for him to wriggle out of not putting forward an immigration bill that has Democratic support or controlling the amendment process so that Democrats don’t have a chance to change the bill.
If ― as progressives were happy to tweet Monday ― Democrats shouldn’t trust McConnell, forcing him to make more explicit promises on the Senate floor, promises that will surely be thrown back in his face should he fail to live up to them and there is another shutdown, that isn’t to be taken for granted. And if the Senate were able to pass a bipartisan DACA bill, while also demonstrating that a more conservative DACA bill currently making its way through the House doesn’t have the votes in the Senate, they make it much easier to argue that it’s Republicans like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who are shutting down the government by not giving Democrats a vote in the House.
The Democratic position of not voting for a government funding bill until there’s a DACA deal seems much more reasonable if there’s actual legislation that’s passed the Senate and is being ignored in the House. You’d be certain to hear the words, “Give us a vote, Mr. Speaker!”
The reality of this shutdown standoff is that it’s hardly over. Democrats agreed to a continuing resolution that will keep the government open for 17 days. They took the Children’s Health Insurance Program off the negotiating table with a six-year extension of the program. And they gave up hardly any leverage to do so.
Republicans and Democrats still don’t have a spending agreement to raise caps lawmakers set in 2011. Without that agreement, the Pentagon would be forced to live with a sequestration spending number that Republicans hate. And the threat that Democrats will shut down the government without an agreement seems more serious now that they’ve actually done that. Democrats don’t like to admit they had any part in shutting down the government. But their position was that they wouldn’t accept a government funding bill because of what wasn’t included, not what was actually in the bill, though Democrats have pointed out there are some provisions they don’t support and that funding the government through stopgap measure after stopgap measure is not a responsible way to govern.
Some of the most disappointed groups after this shutdown, understandably, are Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. But a prolonged shutdown could have seriously damaged public opinion on the Dreamers. Currently, Dreamers enjoy massive support. A Washington Post-ABC poll in September revealed that 86 percent of the public supported Dreamers staying in the U.S. A long shutdown over immigration could have poisoned public opinion on the issue and driven people into their familiar partisan foxholes, as well as made it difficult for more moderate Republicans to actually negotiate a DACA bill. “It [an unresolved shutdown] can only hurt the Dreamers and only piss off potential Republican allies,” a senior Democratic aide told HuffPost Monday, adding that protecting public opinion on Dreamers ― particularly when government shutdowns are so unpopular ― was a consideration for Democrats.
So Democrats staved off the worst effects of a government shutdown. They prevented a turn in public opinion against their party for this shutdown, as well as Dreamers. They got CHIP. They got a commitment from McConnell to bring up immigration legislation. And they gave up none of their leverage.
It may be tempting to insist that Democrats should have pressed on with the shutdown strategy until they got everything they wanted. But Congress works slowly ― barely ― until the moment that it all comes together in an instant.
Democrats took a step toward that moment.
Apple has joined hands with Malala. We hope this will not be a tale of forbidden fruit.
The objective, according to the company, is to donate an as yet undisclosed sum to the Malala Fund with a view to doubling the number of grants to finance secondary education for girls in India and Latin America. According to the company website, the initial target is to help more than 100,000 girls. This is said to come in the way of assisting with technology, curriculum and research into policy changes needed to ensure that girls will have the right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education; as provided by the Malala Fund.
That one of the world’s best known brands and an established market leader wants to work with the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to exercise her fundamental right to education serves to underscore the outreach of Malala’s sincere activism on this front.
We just hope that Apple is as honest in its intentions and not out to get a free ride on someone else’s coattails. After all, here in Pakistan we have seen how certain mobile phone networks have partnered with the local NGO sector to work on, say, literacy retention for the girl child at a time when the telecom industry had reached saturation point.
Naturally, a company like Apple doesn’t need to focus on its global market share. But it may have to work on its appeal. Especially considering that last year the EU Commission had ordered it to pay 13 million euros in back taxes to Ireland, where until very recently its European base was headquartered. Indeed, Dublin was singled out over offering it “fiscal optimisation”; which is essentially illegal tax breaks by another name. This was followed swiftly by the news that Apple was trying its best to skirt the issue by setting up shop in the Channel Island of Jersey, a well known tax haven.
We say this not to malign Malala. But to warn Apple not to take ‘our girl’ down with it. For this incredibly courageous young woman continues to be a source of pride for Pakistan. She has already taken on those hurly burly armed macho men of the Taliban and won. What she doesn’t now need is the extra hassle of being painted as a capitalist stooge. Not when nothing could be further from the truth.