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Schumer Should Remember Gorsuch
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington , DC
Friday, December 21, 2018


Schumer Should Remember Gorsuch

By Peggy Orchowski

Here we go again.  If a bill doesn't pass the Senate by midnight tonight, the "government will shut down".  

That is, parts of the government that haven't been funded as yet will temporarily face not having money in their budget to pay employees. Those workers who are considered to be "non-essential" will not be allowed to go to work during the Christmas holidays. Other "essential employees" such as law enforcement and emergency workers will officially work on the books without pay.  But there is no doubt that all will receive back pay once the government is re-opened by the new 116th Congress on Jan, 3. Only question is, will the oath of office be taken in the dark?

President Trump is fully willing to take the blame for the shut down this time.  He figures the ups for him are far better than any downs. Ups include the appearance of strength: standing firm on his campaign promise and two-year efforts to get money to build a border wall,  The surge of thousands of migrants breaching the southern border illegally since last summer to request asylum in the U.S., even though Mexico has offered them refugee status, has given the wall an urgency not present before. The image of defiant even rock-throwing migrants has been helpful for the President's case. House Republicans led by the Freedom Caucus and Senate Republicans fully support the move to have a $5+billion border wall amendment added to a stop gap bill passed by both houses this week.

But the Democrats are holding firm.  NO funding for a wall period, even though it was promised when Trump signed the omnibus budget bill last May.  It's an all or nothing feel-good strategy perhaps. Butit can have a very serious consequence.  There is a very serious precedent.

No it's not about the dismissal of the DREAMERS as a negotiating chip for the wall even though the Democrats held up a former wall bill unless the President agreed to a Dream Act that greatly expanded the number who would qualify from 1.8 million to 4 million. That turned out to be a poison pill. (remember the Queen of the Hill charade? see my column on May 14).  

But the grave precedent this time is the nuclear option that the Senate voted down for choice of justices that allowed Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to be approved with only a majority of Senate votes - 51 instead of 60.  It happened when Democrats refused to consider a vote for Gorsuch – in a move by Schumer considered by most to be retribution to Republican Senators holding up a vote on the Democratic nominee I 2016 after the conservative icon Justice Antonin Scolia died.  But once President Trump was elected, the selection of a conservative like Gorsuch was a given. A conservative for a conservative.  Democrats should have just lived with it.

But Schumer decided to oppose the Gorsuch nomination. NO Democratic votes he said. Period. The Republicans threatened to do the nuclear allowing judicial nominations to be approved with only a small majority 51 votes,not 60. Schumer said no compromise  So the Republicans "went nuclear".

The Dems in effect used up the one weapon they had when the inevitable 2nd nomination came around – this time the swing vote Justice Kennedy.  Kavanaugh won with 51 votes after the Democrats threw everything they had at him to stop the nomination including last minute unsubstantiated rape charges.

Now Schumer is saying All or Nothing again.  Has he learned nothing?

This time a much more serious nuclear option could be suggested.  The end of the filibuster for all issues. The President has suggested it. Some Senators are looking at it.  It would subject every issue to a majority only vote.  No 60-vote threshold would be needed to stop a filibuster and move to a vote.  It would make the majority all powerful and the President's agenda almost unstoppable in the Senate.

Schumer may need to reconsider the consequences of all-or-nothing this time. Is a partial short government shutdown and stubborn insistence on no compromise for part of a wall worth losing the filibuster?

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“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

Peggy Sands Orchowski
Senior Congressional Correspondent
Washington, DC
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