Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went to the Senate floor on Sunday night and laid out his position on the government shutdown. Thus far, McConnell has rejected repeated overtures from Democrats to keep the government open for three or four more days while negotiations on the budget, health care and immigration continue.
Instead, McConnell said he wants a three week continuing resolution that will keep the government open through February 8. If, by that date, there is no agreement on immigration issues, McConnell now says it is his “intention” to take up separate legislation that would deal with DACA and “related issues.”
Trump ended the DACA program, which provides legal protections to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, in the fall. Providing a permanent fix for this group has been a key sticking point in negotiations to keep the government running.
There were more caveats. McConnell would only take up such legislation if Democrats agree to continue to provide votes for government funding prior to any immigration votes.
McConnell: "Should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires on Feb. 8, assuming the gvt. remains open, it would be my intention to proceed to legislation that would address DACA, border security and related issues."
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) January 22, 2018
McConnell’s latest offer is little more than an empty promise.
The House has pointedly made no agreement to take up DACA legislation, even if it passes the Senate. If the House does not consider the legislation, it will have have no impact on the 800,000 young people whose lives are now in limbo.
Further, McConnell made the exact same promise to Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in December. He promised Flake that, in exchange for Flake’s support for the tax legislation, the Senate would take up a fix for DACA by the end of January.
Bipartisan #DACA bill will be on the Senate floor in January.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 20, 2017
McConnell’s December pledge also had a number of caveats and a month later, he seems to have forgotten all about it.
Finally, thousands of DACA recipients will begin to lose their legal protections in March. McConnell is not pledging to hold a vote on a fix for DACA at any time — only to take up the legislation. That could mean weeks or months of hearings or committee action with no actual votes.
Nevertheless, McConnell’s new position does seem to be enough to satisfy Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) who voted against the first Republican plan for government funding.
I'm very pleased to hear Majority Leader McConnell commit to the Senate that if we do not make a breakthrough on immigration by February 8th, the Senate will take the issue up under regular order.
This is a more than reasonable proposal by the Majority Leader.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 22, 2018
One person who doesn’t seem to be convinced is Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Schumer objected to McConnell’s proposal to consider the February 8 continuing resolution at 10PM. Instead of waiting until 1AM, when McConnell could have held the vote without Schumer’s agreement, McConnell postponed the vote until Monday at noon.
At that time, the Republicans will need 60 votes for the legislation to move forward. Republicans currently control 51 seats.