Making a deal to reopen government was right move

It was embarrassing and unnecessary, but at least the federal government is reopening. Unfortunately, the nation could be back in the same position two weeks from now.

It remains baffling why President Trump, who campaigned on his ability to make deals, did not grab the one right in front of him.

Democrats wanted a deal to protect the Dreamers, the young adults who were brought here as children when their parents entered the country illegally. The Dreamers had received protection, and the ability to pursue higher education and jobs, under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program put in place by the Obama administration.

Polls show the program is a very popular one. Conversely, Trump’s decision to revoke the Obama executive order — and expose the Dreamers to deportation if Congress does not approve a permanent replacement for DACA by March — has been roundly criticized.

A bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republican senators had a deal for Trump. He could get increased funding for border security and in return he would work with Congress to get a DACA/immigration reform bill passed. The president could claim victory for border security and saving a popular program.

Instead the president, after sending conflicting signals, rejected the deal. Democrats dug in and last Friday, without a DACA deal in place, refused to provide the Senate votes needed to pass a spending bill, forcing the shutdown.

That all being true, Democrats were playing a weak hand. Shutting down the government over a single issue — even one as sympathetic as the plight of the Dreamers — is not justifiable. After all, we howled when Republicans shut down the government in a doomed attempt to repeal Obamacare.

In that context, the deal worked out Monday by the minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to fund the government through Feb. 8 makes sense. In return Schumer got assurance from the majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to continue negotiations on a “global agreement” that would include protection for Dreamers and present it for a vote prior to Feb. 8. The measure passed 81-18.

If McConnell and the Republicans betray the deal, the Democrats would have the moral authority to stand their ground come Feb. 8, because then the issue will be one of fair play.

Connecticut’s two Democratic senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, voted no. Understandable, but the wrong decision. They should have backed their leader on this one.

 

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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