Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty ImagesSenate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell provides a the thumbs-up as he walks from a vote on Capitol Hill after the Senate voted to finish the shutdown on Tuesday.Now that Democrats have agreed to finish the federal government shutdown, have they now proved they are going to cave the subsequent time round? That’s a well-liked idea amongst political pundits proper now, but it surely sounds upside-down.
Republicans misplaced certainly one of their legislative hostages by passing the long-term funding of the Childhood Well being Insurance coverage Program whereas committing to handle the right way to salvage President Barack Obama’s Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals program, generally known as DACA. A minimum of within the Senate. Granted, it’s not way more than Democrats had on Friday — earlier than the federal government closed — but it surely’s one thing.
Alternatively, Republicans didn’t get something in any respect. Keep in mind, the GOP desires to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal 12 months. They’d choose to fund it on their very own phrases, however they’d additionally settle for a compromise that goes a great distance in direction of reaching their agenda. They’re no nearer to that than they had been when the final non permanent funding invoice — the one which arrange the Jan. 18 deadline — handed again in December. That provides Democrats leverage.
Each time Republicans kick the authorities funding can down the highway, they lose steam. Solely 14 senators (and solely eight Democrats) opposed the extension voted on in early December. That elevated to 32 “no” votes (31 Democrats and one Republican) on the pre-Christmas extension. After which, final Friday, 48 senators opposed kicking the can down the highway one other 4 weeks. That was sufficient to defeat the persevering with decision by filibuster, however not sufficient to offer Democrats the elevated leverage a majority vote would have offered.
Now Republicans have lower than three week till the subsequent deadline. If nothing modifications — if there’s neither an immigration deal or, as appears possible with out DACA, an general spending deal, then they’ll want one other persevering with decision. At that time, Republicans received’t have CHIP funding as leverage. The DACA March deadline will probably be that a lot nearer. And senators who’re impatient with a sequence of continuous resolutions (CR) will probably be much more impatient. One other CR that passes the Home on a party-line vote for one more three- or four-week delay may simply lose the 48 senators who opposed the Friday vote, together with a number of of the 5 Democrats who supported it, and even perhaps a number of extra Republicans similar to Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Bob Corker. These three voted for the four-week CR on Friday however then negotiated for a compromise.
If Republicans can’t maintain a majority within the Senate, they could have to change to very brief non permanent funding payments, and extra to the purpose they could have to really negotiate a deal, each on DACA and on the full-year spending invoice. In actual fact, if McConnell anticipates that he received’t have a majority subsequent time, he could attempt to lower a deal earlier than the deadline. That’s primarily what the Democrats need.
After all, there are extra unknowns than knowns at this level. Will non permanent funding measures proceed to lose assist within the Senate? If the Senate does attain a bipartisan compromise on immigration, general spending, or each, would the Home go alongside? That’s, would Speaker Paul Ryan be prepared to carry to the ground a invoice that the Home Freedom Caucus strongly opposed? And there’s no method of predicting what the White Home will do to derail all of this.
Ignore the spin from both aspect. The shutdown that ended Monday shouldn’t have occurred, and everybody shares the blame. Nevertheless it’s laborious for me to see how the Democrats are in any worse form than they had been in on Friday.
Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science on the College of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw College and wrote A Plain Weblog About Politics.