With the federal government shutdown now in its third day, a White House spokesman on Monday blasted a deal offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to end the standoff.
Schumer’s allies cast the offer as a major concession — authorization for a border wall long sought by President Donald Trump. But deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” this morning that a closer examination of the details demonstrates the offer was no concession at all.
Gidley noted that the proposal amounted to authorization — but not the actual appropriation of funds — for $1.6 billion. That is less than 10 percent of the $18 billion that the Department of Homeland Security estimates the wall would cost.
He asked how Democrats would react if Trump offered amnesty for a commensurate share of the young illegal immigrants enrolled in the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“What if we said, ‘OK, well, we’ll address one-tenth of the dreamers?” he asked. “How do you think that would go over? It’s completely insulting to try and pretend as though you’re funding something that … had to be in there. The wall is essential to the president.”
A Democratic-led filibuster blocked a vote on Friday to keep the government open for four weeks while lawmakers and President Donald Trump continued to negotiate the fate of illegal immigrants currently enrolled in DACA.
After Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluded that the previous administration exceeded its authority in creating the quasi-amnesty program, Trump announced in September that he would end it, but he gave Congress six months to fashion a legislative solution.
Democrats forced a shutdown, hoping it would turn up the heat on Trump and Republicans to codify DACA in law — and, perhaps, pass an amnesty that applies more broadly than to the 690,000 beneficiaries.
The Senate voted Monday 81-18 to end the filibuster after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to allow a vote on a DACA amnesty in exchange for a short-term funding measure to keep the government through February 8.
Earlier Monday, McConnell tried to break the impasse by promising a vote on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act or something similar — as long as Democrats did not hold the government hostage. It was a major concession from McConnell, who previously had said the Senate would not vote on immigration legislation without a commitment from Trump to sign it.
“This immigration debate will have a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that’s fair to all sides,” he said on the floor.
Gidley predicted the public would blame Democrats if the shutdown dragged on.
“I mean, this is the ‘Schumer Shutdown.’ I think that the country understands that Democrats are playing politics with people’s lives.”
“Well, I mean obviously, there’s been so much misreporting because there’s been … so many untruths coming from the Left on this,” he said. “You know this. They own this. I mean, this is the ‘Schumer Shutdown.’ I think that the country understands that Democrats are playing politics with people’s lives.”
Gidley suggested that it is bizarre for Democrats to prioritize illegal immigrants over a functioning government.
“For Democrats to hang their hat on this and decide to choose the side of people who are here unlawfully — hundreds of thousands of people here unlawfully — versus hundreds of millions of American citizens?” he said. “I think that’s a huge mistake, politically and, quite frankly, from a public policy standpoint.”
Gidley also criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who sided with Democrats on Friday’s shutdown vote and has pushed for the DREAM Act.
“I’m from South Carolina,” he said. “I was the executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party. I remember at the state convention a roomful of 2,000 Republicans who booed Sen. Graham, because he was for amnesty and open borders then.”
Appearing separately on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich questioned why Graham is such a zealot on the issue, which cannot be in line with his conservative state.
“His position on this is about as much of an outlier as you can be given the state that he represents,” he said.
This article has been updated to reflect the results of the Senate vote.
Last Modified: January 22, 2018, 1:09 pm