After the Shutdown: Can They Keep the Lights On?

by: The Knowledge Group

January 30, 2018


The government has reopened after its three-day shutdown. Now, a temporary appropriations deal offers a brief span of time—until Feb. 8—for Congress to solve key disagreements.

Central Point of Contention

The shutdown happened over the quest to keep young, undocumented migrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA, which Trump announced last year would expire in early March).

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hinged the government’s reopening upon Republicans’ promises to seek a resolution for DACA’s beneficiaries.

Dramatic Concession?

Trump has now expressed interest in offering a path to citizenship for those beneficiaries and others, comprising 1.8 million (to include 690,000 people already protected by DACA, plus those who have not applied but were, or could become, eligible).

For that, the White House wants $25 billion for border reinforcements.

The Trump proposal is unlikely to prevail. Schumer reportedly no longer wishes to accept it as part of a compromise. And the Trump proposal would close “loopholes” around removal proceedings—almost certainly meaning harsh enforcement measures the Democrats will find hard to swallow.

Also on the Presidential Wish List

Trump wants to stop immigrants from bringing parents or other relatives—leaving DACA parents’ futures in question.

The White House would also end the traditional diversity visa lottery in favor of green cards for researchers, professors, and entrepreneurs. The overall effect of the proposal was decried by Sen. Brian Schatz’s tweet: “There is no public policy justification for cutting legal immigration in half. None.”

With the House expected to propose its own immigration bill, the need for bi-partisan agreement, and the contentious circumstances surrounding the whole matter, the struggle underlying the shutdown continues.

Time Is of the Essence

An ultimate resolution of the shutdown needs agreement on spending caps too. How much should be allocated to military and other programs? Both are capped. Democrats want any rises in military caps to be matched by rises in social spending.

According to Congressional Budget Office findings, the Treasury will be unable to pay its bills by early April unless annual ceilings are raised before then.