Op-EdColumnistsAskia MuhammadOpinion

MUHAMMAD: What Shutdown? It Was a Democratic Capitulation

After a mere 69-hour government shutdown — if you want to call it that — President Donald Trump signed a short-term funding bill and the government is open again. Whoop-dee-doo! It was a Democratic Party capitulation, that’s what it was.

Some observers say it’s just a Band-Aid or maybe a tourniquet because it only lasts until February 8th. So Congress now has about two-and-a-half weeks to agree on a permanent fix. The Senate passed the revised bill 81 to 18 and it quickly got through the House. Now about 800,000 federal workers will look to get reimbursed.

The Senate vote to end the shutdown came after Democratic lawmakers capitulated (rolled over, really) on the demand that any spending deal include a resolution on DACA — that’s the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Instead, a slew of centrist Democrats abandoned their promise to the nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants whose protections President Trump ended last fall, and joined Republicans in voting to pass a short-term spending deal. What else were they gonna do? Some of them represent states which The Donald carried by double digit margins.

But DACA recipients slammed the move.

“I feel very disappointed, very disappointed by the fact that our politicians did not continue to support us,” Karina Velasco said at a New York City rally. “Some of the American people, some of our politicians blame us, DACA recipients, the Dreamers, for the government shutdown. However, we are not responsible for a shutdown. The Republicans and the Democrats, who didn’t have the backbone to support a Clean DREAM Act, are the ones to blame for a government shutdown.”

The shutdown caused 45 to miss a golfing celebration at his Florida resort. It came on Jan. 20, the anniversary of his first year in office. Dude managed to oversee a shutdown of the United States government. What a guy.

At the same time he earned himself the lowest approval ratings of any president in modern history. Mr. Trump’s succession of volatile statements and policies — each more spectacular than the one before — has been like a rocket ride toward hell, rather than an ascent to greatness.

For the first time in U.S. history a shutdown — caused by the expiration of the government’s authority to spend money — occurred when the same party (in this case the Republicans) controls not only the White House, but the House and Senate majorities as well. But Republicans needed the votes of several Democratic senators in order to pass the spending bill, and they blamed Democrats for causing the shutdown in order to “protect illegal immigrants.” That was too much for the Dems to defend.

More than 800,000 undocumented people who were brought to this country as children — so-called “Dreamers” — are subject to deportation unless Congress extends their residency protection. For his part, the Pres argued that the agreement must include funding to build his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Democrats conceded that point, and then Dude withdrew his offer. Gotcha!

Democrats argued that Trump and his allies wanted to see the government shutdown all along. In fact, in May, Trump called for a “good shutdown” to fix the “mess” in the government. That was the brainchild of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congress member who once prided himself on being part of the House “Shutdown Caucus” agreed at the time. “A ‘good’ shutdown would be something that fixes Washington, D.C., permanently,” Mulvaney said at the time.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Capitol Hill that the GOP was using the plight of the Dreamers “to attack our domestic agenda,” which includes children’s health protection, disaster relief, and other domestic-social spending.

Some “good news” on the occasion: Trump’s one-year anniversary was also greeted by massive protests around the country, hundreds and hundreds of thousands mainly women in dozens of cities.

At the same time the president’s popularity is at a historic low, especially toward Black people. Predictably, 79 percent of Black people see him as biased toward them. The overall population agrees: 52 percent of the overall population sees him as biased against Black people, according to an ABC News poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates. Oh, well. Better luck next time kids.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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