Looking to prevent a government shutdown, President Trump and congressional leadership met Thursday to discuss the issues surrounding the passage of a long-term spending deal. The meeting was a make-up for a late November meeting that Democratic leaders skipped in protest of the president tweeting that they wanted “illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked” earlier that morning.
So what does a tweet about immigration have to do with a budget deal? It’s all about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, and the full story is much longer than a tweet.
In September, Trump surprised everyone—Democrats and Republicans alike—when he struck a deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to protect “dreamers,” 800,000 people who were brought to the country illegally when they were children, and who are now facing deportation as adults. Trump removed protections for these undocumented workers in September, saying that Congress should negotiate a plan to pass a law to replace the overruled Obama administration policy.
Trump’s surprise agreement with the Democrats move came at a time when the president was particularly frustrated by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who couldn’t push healthcare reforms through Congress. But it wasn’t a surprise to everybody—particularly the rank-and-file Democrats who said Trump would go back on his word.
Then in October, he did. The president gave Congress his conditions for the DACA deal, terms that included a demand for a border wall with Mexico, which was previously agreed to be off the table.
So, essentially the immigration football got kicked down the road for three months, and it has now landed in the middle of a scrum to fund the government. Along the way, the president (ever in need of a foil) has characterized Schumer and Pelosi as “weak on crime,” among other things that aren’t flattering towards people you’re looking to negotiate with.
There is some speculation that Trump’s back-and-forth negotiation tactics have been on purpose, because (as he has reportedly admitted to those close to him) he believes a government shutdown could help him. Trump has also made mention of the country needing a “good ‘shutdown'” in the past on Twitter:
DACA isn’t the only issue of importance to the Democrats. The opioid epidemic, veterans’ funding, children’s health centers, and others are on the table. But as time is running out—and running into budget talks—it’s a topic that needs to be addressed, or else these people with no permanent legal status will face deportation.
The issue must be resolved by Dec. 22, when current funding for the federal government will run out, or at the latest by the holiday recess. “We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” Pelosi told reporters outside the Capitol on Thursday.