The U.S. government shutdown happened last night when Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement on a temporary spending bill to keep the government open because of a disagreement over the status of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Against this backdrop, U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer’s views on an immigration-related government shutdown may have evolved in the past five years.
As the New York Post alluded to, a government shutdown is somewhat of a misnomer that most functions continue, particularly in the civilian sector, and federal workers sent home wind up getting paid later anyway.
“If no deal is brokered by Monday, employees will be placed on furlough, or temporary unpaid leave. However, essential operations such as military, law enforcement and mail delivery will continue to operate in a diminished form. Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the shutdown.”
A government funding bill passed the U.S. House, but the Senate operates under different procedural rules. In that chamber, ending a filibuster (i.e, stopping the pre-vote talking) requires 60 votes to send a measure to an actual up-or-down vote. With Democrats insisting on amnesty for DACA recipients as part of the legislative package, the so-called cloture vote received approval from 46 Republicans (out of 51) but just five votes from Democrats, far short of 60, thus short-circuiting the continuance of government funding for now.
President Trump has previously signaled that he’s willing to do a deal on DACA as long as it also includes funding for the border wall and other security-related stipulations. With the government shutdown a reality, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders deemed Democrats “obstructionist losers,” while Trump accused them on Twitter of being more concerned with illegal aliens than making sure active-duty military get their paychecks and/or beefing up security at the southern border.
Charles Schumer of New York, who is now leads the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, blamed Trump for the current government shutdown. On Twitter, he claimed that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want a government shutdown, and that Trump was the only person “who has ever rooted for a ‘good shutdown.'”
According to the New York Times, the two men almost negotiated a deal for short-term government funding while they dined on cheeseburgers on Friday at the White House, but it fell through because of a lack of consensus over additional border security upgrades.
During a 2013 interview on ABC This Week, in the context of that shutdown which lasted 16 days, Schumer implied that Democrats would never shut down the government over immigration, however, and characterized the GOP under then House Speaker John Boehner as “legislative arsonists” and “hostage takers,” the Washington Examiner recalled.
“You know, we could do the same thing on immigration. We believe strongly in immigration reform. We could say, ‘We’re shutting down the government, we’re not gonna raise the debt ceiling, until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos.”
Around that time, Schumer separately remarked that “No matter how strongly one feels about an issue, you shouldn’t hold millions of people hostage,” the Observer reported.
When the 2013 shutdown occurred, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi blasted the GOP for what she described as an “unthinkable tactic,” while Sen. Bernie Sanders called it an “extraordinary anti-Democratic act.”
On Twitter today, Sen. Marco Rubio predicted that more Democrats in the Senate will abandon what he called the Schumer shutdown and allow a temporary government spending bill to pass.
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget said the government would transfer funds between and among agencies to maintain operations in the interim and that the national parks would stay open, and military operations would go forward, the Times noted.
Watch the Charles Schumer interview about the government shutdown on ABC This Week in the clip below.