With a Government Shutdown Looming, Chuck and Nancy Try to Play Hardball

by Theodore Kupfer

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are trying to play hardball. Unless Congress passes a debt-ceiling increase and a continuing resolution by December 9, the federal government will shut down. Democrats are hoping to leverage the threat of a shutdown to score concessions on immigration, but this morning, President Trump said on Twitter that he “doesn’t see a deal” with Schumer and Pelosi. In response, the Democratic leaders pulled out of a planned negotiation session with the president and top Republicans.

“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,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement this morning. Liberal commentator Brian Beutler praised the gambit as “a shrewd way to drive a wedge between Trump and GOP leaders” — the idea being that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are more amenable to working out a deal with Democrats than with the president.

That does not seem to be the case. Shortly after Schumer and Pelosi issued their statement, the Republican leaders released one of their own, criticizing their colleagues for their “antics.” “Democratic leaders have continually found new excuses not to meet with the administration to discuss these issues,” McConnell and Ryan said. “There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there.” The meeting indeed took place:

Pelosi and Schumer want the budget deal to include an unqualified renewal of DACA. Republicans know that renewing the program without securing countervailing reforms would be a political disaster. A long-term deal will require the two parties to negotiate, productively, the question of immigration — or for one to blink.

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