News & Politics

Liberal Groups Stunned, Enraged Over Senate Deal to End Shutdown Without DACA

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., arrives at the Capitol at the start of the third day of the government shutdown, in Washington, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Liberal groups who were cheering and gloating on Friday when Senate Democrats held the line on including DACA in the short term funding bill — a move that directly led to the government shutdown — changed their tune today when those same Democrats caved in to Republicans and approved the measure without DACA.

The description of the moment it dawned on the groups in Talking Points Memo that Friday’s heroes had feet of clay is priceless, as was the reaction afterwards.

The deal infuriated the left-wing groups and immigration advocates who had cheered their Friday stand — with many warning of recriminations, the first major schism on the left since President Trump’s election.

“It’s morally reprehensible and political malpractice. It’s [Senate  Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer’s job to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed on both fronts,” Ezra Levin, a leader of the Indivisible Project, told TPM shortly after the vote. “We’re going to be holding the Democrats accountable who caved.”

Levin’s group was among those on a conference call late Monday morning encouraging Democrats to stand strong on the vote. When TPM informed themduring the call that Senate leaders had decided against doing so, the news was met with a stunned silence. After a few seconds Frank Sharry, the head of the pro-immigrant America’s Voice, weighed to say he had “a lot of concern” about its details.

Wouldn’t you have loved being a fly in the wall in that room?

“They grew a pair on Friday night and they couldn’t find them today,” Sharry told TPM in a follow-up conversation after the vote. “Friday night, Democrats stood together and said ‘we’re going to take on this racist bully.’ … By Monday morning they were climbing down for very little in return. Come on, Democrats.”

Sharry said he and other advocates wanted Democrats to stare down President Trump and the GOP for the next few days to let the pressure build and try to force them to the negotiating table once again. Instead, Trump refused to negotiate — and Democrats were the ones to crumble.

What were Democrats thinking?” he said. “We’re pissed.”

He’s not the only one.

“Enough is enough. We cannot rely on empty promises from those who have already proven to play politics with the lives of Dreamers. Today, Republicans — and too many Democrats — in Congress betrayed our American values and allowed bigotry and fear to prevail,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lorella Praeli said in a statement. “We will be watching, and will make sure voters this November know if their representatives stood for Dreamers or for their deportation.”

“The Democrats need to stand strong,” said Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden.

You might remember similar sentiments expressed by conservative groups following their cave in to Obama at the time of the last shutdown in 2013. Then, the issue was repeal of Obamacare and the right went ballistic on Republicans who voted to reopen the government without getting rid of it.

In truth, the Democrats never had a chance of succeeding and only went through the motions to please those “stunned” people on the conference call. They had their token shutdown. But the next round will probably be make or break for the Democrats as far as DACA is concerned. The program is set to expire March 6, which means they will have very little leverage in negotiations if Senator McConnell keeps his promise and brings the issue to the floor for a vote.

The GOP should be able to get billions more in immigration enforcement money, as well as limiting the DACA program as Democrats, who once said they would never vote a penny for the wall, will be forced to acquiesce to the president’s wishes.