Here we are again; another deadline and another possible government shutdown. The common factor clearly is the lack of coherent leadership in the Republican majority coupled with the changing goalposts courtesy of the current occupant in the White House.
House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, is standing firm on her insistence the budget deal includes resolution for the Dreamers, the DACA recipients who have become a political football thanks to the maneuverings of House Speaker, Paul Ryan. Because of this there are now three distinct Republican positions on immigration, outlined below:
- Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has promised to have debate on immigration as part of the deal he struck with Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader. Supposedly, this is scheduled to take place next week.
- President Trump has a different position which has changed several times, but the most recent iteration is he is only willing to discuss DACA recipients if there is also a large curtailing of family reunification (he calls it chain immigration) and doing away with the immigration lottery system. This system was set up to increase the diversity of countries the United States takes in and has largely benefited immigrants from Africa. Generally it is a 10-year process with close vetting, but Trump described it as if that wasn’t the case.
- Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has a position that falls between these two and is predicated moment-by-moment by what will keep him Speaker of the House.
The impact of this indecision and the right hand not knowing what the right-right hand is doing has led to the predicament we are in tonight. As of this writing the House is scrambling to secure votes which will allow it to pass, a process complicated by having opponents on the far right and the left. The Freedom Caucus (conservatives in the House) resent the increase in spending on anything other than the military, and the left opposes the Senate agreement unless it addresses the DACA issue with assurances similar to those in the Senate.
For the average reader, the impact will be felt in the tumbling stock market, anxiety on the part of the DACA recipients who may be forced to leave the only country they have really known to go “back” to a country they don’t, and the continuing belief that the Republicans who hold the majority in both chambers of Congress and the presidency are still more interested in party politics than the interests of the constituents they were sent to Washington, D.C. to represent.