US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is taking major heat from the progressive faction of the Democratic caucus for negotiating with the Republican leadership of the Senate to end the three-day government shutdown on Monday, a move that is viewed by many as a victory for US President Donald Trump.
There is widespread disappointment among progressive Democrats that Schumer won almost nothing tangible in exchange for providing the votes to pass a continuing resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which protects “Dreamers” — undocumented persons under the age of 35 who arrived in the US as children.
The DACA program, which the Trump administration has decided to end, allows young undocumented individuals who arrived in the US as children to be given work permits and a renewable two-year period of deferred action for deportation.
On Tuesday, Ezra Levin, co-founder of left-wing advocacy group Indivisible, told the New York Times, “It’s Senator Schumer’s job as minority leader to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed to do so.”
Democracy for America, another political action committee, called Schumer’s capitulation “a stunning display of moral and political cowardice.”
“This shows me that when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and their families, Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat,” said Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) in a Tuesday statement.
Similarly, Murshed Zaheed, a political director at progressive advocacy group Credo, said, “It’s official! Chuck Schumer is the worst negotiator in Washington, even worse than Trump.”
Dave Lindorff, an investigative reporter and columnist for CounterPunch, also agrees that Schumer’s decision is a major loss for the Democratic party.
“There have been two losers here. The Democratic party is showing itself unable to get past the fact that a minority of their members who are senators are unwilling to take a hard stand on progressive issues. So, they’re losers in the sense that they’ve been exposed as incredibly weak,” Lindorff told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.
“This is also a big loss for the Republicans, long term, because they are alienating the fastest growing population group in the US, which is Latinos,” Lindorff told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
“Of course, the real losers are the immigrants,” Becker chimed in, reminding listeners of the estimated nearly 800,000 Dreamers at risk of being stripped of their legal rights.
Even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) keeps his Monday promise to consider legislation to extend DACA, there is absolutely no guarantee that the House or Trump will support Dreamers.
“They [the Democratic Party] got nothing,” Lindorff said.
“They have to win in both houses and clearly the House [of Representatives] is not going to support immigration reform. There are too many people on the far conservative side in the House that consider Dreamers to be illegal immigrants and will want to take a really hard line,” he added.
The US government shut down this weekend after Congress failed to pass a new government funding law before the old one expired on Friday. The point of conflict between Democrats and Republicans? The protection of Dreamers through DACA.
Only three days into the shutdown, Senate Democrats conceded in exchange for prolonging talks with Republicans on the fate of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers. Schumer even told Trump in a Friday meeting before the shutdown that he was willing to put the proposed border wall with Mexico, reviled by Democrats, “on the table” in a potential deal to prevent a shutdown.
On Tuesday, Schumer clarified that the Senate leader’s offer to increase border wall spending was retracted Sunday, USA Today reported.