After December 8, 2017, members of the US armed services would continue to serve but would not be compensated, millions of veterans and their families would not receive their due benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the National Park System would shut down completely. All this because the U.S. government runs out of money on Dec. 8. Yesterday a meeting to figure out how to avoid this catastrophe was boycotted by Democrats Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Does this mean pro-government Democrats have gone through a Republican conversion and now want to defund the Federal government?
No Democrats are still the same Democrats who believe that government should pay for more than just national defense. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, boycotted the oval office meeting with Republican President Donald Trump, in reaction to his thoughtless Tuesday morning tweet:
Schumer and Pelosi responded with the following statement “Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead.” “Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we’ve asked Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to meet this afternoon.
Unfortunately for Republicans President Trump’s inability to “see a deal” is the first step to a government shutdown. The purpose of the meeting was to begin urgent negotiations to pass a federal budget and spending plan before the government runs out of money. Republicans cannot pass a federal spending bill without Democratic votes in the Senate, where a 60-vote majority will be needed to move the bill forward, and in the House Republicans need Democratic votes to pass spending bills because their most conservative members refuse to support them.
President Trump feels that he can force Democrats to meet and compromise with him because if the government shuts down, he thinks Democrats, not him or Republicans will get the blame. He started his blame the Democrats spin campaign by holding the boycotted meeting with only Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in attendance.
Sitting next to empty chairs marked with name cards that were meant for the Democratic leaders, President Trump speaking about Democrats to reporters said “They’ve been all talk and they’ve been no action, and now it’s even worse,” “Now it’s not even talk.” When asked what would happen if a shutdown occurs the President replied, “If that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats,” he said. “If it happens, it’s going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall.”
Ryan and McConnell released a joint statement saying “Democrats are putting government operations, particularly resources for our men and women on the battlefield, at great risk by pulling these antics,” “There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there.”
Democrats must avoid the blame Republicans will try to taint them with. First, they should start by reminding the country of President Trump not keeping his word. The Huff Post reports In September after a dinner meeting with the president, the Democratic leaders said they had struck a deal with Trump on extending protections for young undocumented immigrants who were losing those same protections because of an action by the president. Trump later contradicted them, saying there was no deal.
Second Schumer and Pelosi must state loud and clear that they will not support any funding bill that does not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and does not permanently protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They should go to the floor of the House and Senate every day saying they will agree to the stopgap funding, which will include money for President Trump’s wall, if these 2 conditions are agreed to.
In any negotiation, one must know when to hold firm, when to compromise and when to fold and give up. In this case, since Democrats control nothing and have limited power, they have to be prepared to make a compromise. If they do, unfortunately it should be on the DACA program.
Democrats have to be careful because if a shutdown occurs the pain and inconvenience it causes will have many people looking for someone to blame. Shutting down the government over health insurance for children born in America versus shutting down the government over children brought here by illegal immigrants, are two different things. Under such inconvenient circumstances Americans are more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of children born here versus those brought here by illegal immigrants.
Republicans know they are vulnerable to being blamed for a shutdown because they control both Houses of Congress and the White House, that’s why President Trump has already begun the spin that Democrats want the shutdown over “illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked”, and “want to substantially RAISE Taxes.”
Now is the time Schumer and Pelosi have to step up, fight hard and choose wisely. They should fight tooth and nail for both children’s health insurance and DACA, but in the end be willing if necessary to compromise on DACA by saving the fight for it for another day. This denies President Trump and Republicans the upper hand of claiming Democrats are helping immigrants and hurting American citizens. It will put Republicans in the precarious position of possibly shutting down the government because they refuse to fund health insurance for America’s children!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at isaacnewtonfarris.com on November 29, 2017.