On Saturday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blamed Republicans for forgetting “the lessons of the Founding Fathers” in the broken budget negotiations leading to the government shutdown. By doing so, he not only showcased Democrat hypocrisy, but emphatically proved that his party is to blame for the shutdown.
“Our democracy was designed to run on compromise. The Senate was designed to run on compromise. We are no dictatorship, subject to the whims of an executive,” Schumer declared. “We are a government that can only operate if the majority party, the governing party, accepts and seeks compromise. The majority, however, has forgotten the lessons of the Founding Fathers. They have shown that they do not know how to compromise.”
The very history of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eviscerates Schumer’s argument, as noted by the Federalist’s Margot Cleveland. Democrats had ample opportunity to create such a problem the way the founders intended — by passing laws in Congress and having them signed by the president. Instead, President Barack Obama abused his executive power on the issue.
DACA came into existence on June 15, 2012, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memo announcing a new policy — giving young people who were brought (illegally) to this country as children a two-year period of “deferred action.” Even that memo admitted that DACA did not confer a “substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship,” because that was the domain of Congress.
Actually, under the Constitution as the Founding Fathers intended, DACA would also fall squarely under the control of Congress. So why didn’t Congress create such a program? After Obama won the presidency in 2008, Democrats dominated the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. If this was such a big issue for them, why not compromise with Republicans to get it done when they were in power? If they demand compromise now, why did they not compromise then?
Obama’s 2012 act represented a Democrat president effectively making law when the Democrats in Congress had refused to compromise and pass the law the way the Founding Fathers intended. Schumer has no authority to attack Republicans on this issue.
It got worse, however. In 2014, DHS unilaterally expanded the DACA period from two to three years, and created a new policy, DAPA — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
In response, 26 states sued the federal government, arguing that DHS had exceeded its authority. A federal court agreed, issuing a nationwide injunction barring enforcement of DAPA and DACA. The court noted that “Congress had repeatedly declined to enact legislation ‘closely resembl[ing] DACA and DAPA.'”
Congress still did not act, even after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision striking DAPA and the expanded DACA in 2015. Congress also did nothing after the Supreme Court upheld these actions in United States v. Texas in 2016. Last year, states announced their intention to challenge the original DACA policy as an abuse of executive power.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions determined the original DACA policy was unlawful, and DHS concluded that the program should be terminated. Congress still did nothing, but a federal district court entered a preliminary injunction on January 9, ordering the government to maintain DACA. While the DOJ filed a petition with the Supreme Court, it did not ask for a stay of this injunction, so DACA must be maintained for the time being.
Sen. Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Party insist that DACA be protected in any bill to fund the federal government, but they refused to act between 2008 and 2010, when Democrats held all the reins of power. It is fatuously absurd for the party to claim this shutdown is an emergency effort to save DACA when they did not budge to create such a system or to sustain the program when it was threatened in federal courts.
Schumer’s reference of the Founders not only revealed the Democrats’ hypocrisy on DACA, however. It also revealed why the shutdown is properly termed the “Schumer Shutdown” rather than the “Trump Shutdown.”
Many Americans ask how the Democrats could be to blame for the shutdown when Republicans largely control the federal government. The Founding Fathers provide the answer.
Yes, Republicans control the presidency, and they have majorities in the House and the Senate. Even so, the Founding Fathers built safeguards into the Constitution to empower minorities to stand up to majorities. In Federalist Paper 51, James Madison warned against the “tyranny of the majority,” and defended a system that allowed a sizable minority to restrain the people’s will in the pursuit of justice.
The U.S. Senate still preserves a degree of that check and balance, and it is a healthy step for representative government when used appropriately.
However, Democrats are not using it appropriately. They are holding funding for the government hostage in order to save DACA, a program that they refused to create in 2008-2010 and that they refused to defend between 2015 and 2018. This program does not have a direct impact on federal government spending, and if it were indeed an emergency to save it now — why was it not an emergency before?
Since the Founding Fathers gave Congress the authority to create programs like DACA, why did the Democrat Congress not create it — or try to save it when the program was threatened? The Founding Fathers required supermajorities in Congress to achieve certain things, enabling Democrats to hold the federal government hostage for a pet project at the eleventh hour.
While Schumer undoubtedly thought it would be powerful to use the Founding Fathers against Republicans, his grandstanding quote actually unveiled his own hypocrisy and guilt for the shutdown.
Why does this matter? Numerous polls have suggested that while DACA is a popular program, Americans do not support it at the cost of a government shutdown.
A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll found that only 17 percent of Americans consider a replacement for DACA to be an extremely important priority for Congress and President Trump. The issue ranked twelfth out of 15 domestic issues. Even only 20 percent of Democrats said so.
A Rasmussen Reports poll found that if no additional money was spent on border control, 55 percent of voters said they were opposed to a shutdown over protecting people covered under DACA. A mere 27 percent were in favor of it.
A recent Morning Consult survey found that a mere 25 percent of voters were “definitely” willing to prompt a government shutdown to preserve DACA, while 28 percent said they were definitely not.
That poll also found that 63 percent of American voters agreed with the statement, “Members of Congress should take all necessary steps to avoid a government shutdown. They should achieve their policy goals another way.”
The liberal media might push the idea that President Trump is to blame for this shutdown, but Schumer’s own words reveal the truth. This political grandstanding may cost the Democrats, in more ways than one.