The Federal Government Could Shut Down Friday, and You Can Thank Donald Trump’s Racism | News
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Federal Government Could Shut Down Friday, and You Can Thank Donald Trump’s Racism

Posted by on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 9:25 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

The problem with Donald Trump’s racism isn’t just the racism itself, although it’s bad enough for the leader of the free world to be a bigot. (Sorry, but if you’re still claiming he’s not a racist, you’re deluding yourself.) It’s that his racism has real-world consequences. For example: His most recent outburst, in which he called Haiti and countries in Africa “shitholes,” has imperiled an immigration compromise. Now, there’s a pretty good (and increasingly likely) chance that, on Friday, the U.S. government will shut down.
  • The NYT has a political breakdown: “President Trump’s incendiary words about immigration have dampened the prospects that a broad spending and immigration deal can be reached by the end of the week, raising the possibility of a government shutdown with unknown political consequences for lawmakers in both parties. Democrats facing re-election in states that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 fear that a government funding crisis, precipitated by an immigration showdown, could imperil their campaigns. And they are growing increasingly uneasy that liberal colleagues eyeing White House bids are demanding that any spending bill beyond a stopgap measure that expires on Jan. 19 include protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.”
  • “But Republicans face their own uncertainties. With their party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, they could receive most of the blame for a shutdown, even if Senate Democrats effectively block a spending plan that does not extend the immigrant protections of an Obama-era program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.”
  • “Ten Democratic senators are on the ballot this November in states that are heavily white, have little sympathy for undocumented immigrants and that Mr. Trump won. Many of these lawmakers have no desire to force a government shutdown over an immigration issue. Some of the party’s most at-risk seats are in Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and North Dakota. If they side with Senate Republicans, Congress could pass yet another short-term spending bill by Friday that would end the shutdown threat for now as negotiations continue.”
  • “What most alarms congressional negotiators is that political imperatives appear to have overtaken the immigration policy deliberations in the still-unfolding debate over Mr. Trump’s vulgar description in last Thursday’s meeting of some nations. Two of the Republicans involved in the discussions complained on Monday that the days-long controversy over Mr. Trump’s comment had imperiled hopes for an agreement.”

MEANWHILE: The Washington Post has details on that Oval Office meeting that tanked a bipartisan agreement.
  • “When President Trump spoke by phone with Sen. Richard J. Durbin around 10:15 a.m. last Thursday, he expressed pleasure with Durbin’s outline of a bipartisan immigration pact and praised the high-ranking Illinois Democrat’s efforts, according to White House officials and congressional aides. The president then asked if Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), his onetime foe turned ally, was on board, which Durbin affirmed. Trump invited the lawmakers to visit with him at noon, the people familiar with the call said.”
  • “But when they arrived at the Oval Office, the two senators were surprised to find that Trump was far from ready to finalize the agreement. He was ‘fired up’ and surrounded by hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who seemed confident that the president was now aligned with them, according to one person with knowledge of the meeting. Trump told the group he wasn’t interested in the terms of the bipartisan deal that Durbin and Graham had been putting together. And as he shrugged off suggestions from Durbin and others, the president called nations from Africa ‘shithole countries,’ denigrated Haiti and grew angry. The meeting was short, tense and often dominated by loud cross-talk and swearing, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the meeting.”
  • “Trump complained that there wasn’t enough money included in the deal for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He also objected that Democratic proposals to adjust the visa lottery and federal policy for immigrants with temporary protected status were going to drive more people from countries he deemed undesirable into the United States instead of attracting immigrants from places like Norway and Asia, people familiar with the meeting said. Attendees who were alarmed by the racial undertones of Trump’s remarks were further disturbed when the topic of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) came up, these people said. At one point, Durbin told the president that members of that caucus—an influential House group—would be more likely to agree to a deal if certain countries were included in the proposed protections, according to people familiar with the meeting. Trump was curt and dismissive, saying he was not making immigration policy to cater to the CBC and did not particularly care about that bloc’s demands, according to people briefed on the meeting.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The Democrats’ only real leverage to force recalcitrant Republicans to pass a DACA fix—and prevention the potential deportations of up to eight hundred thousand young people brought to the country as children—is the threat of a shutdown. Democrats believe Republicans will be blamed for any shutdown, since Republicans control Washington, D.C., and the unpopular border wall is the hill they’ll be choosing to die on. Couple that with Trump’s racist remarks, and it’s hard to see how the president comes out looking good. Republicans, meanwhile, will likely aim for another short-term extension, for which they’ll need nine Democrats—presumably those from Trump states.
  • Tl;dr: While a clean DACA bill could likely pass both houses of Congress, it would anger the GOP’s immigration hardliners, which is something Trump hasn’t been willing to do. In any event, the GOP is now using human beings as bargaining chips.

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