In seven days, when the latest government funding runs out, we will know the full extent of the damage to the ongoing negotiations with Democrats caused by President Trump’s now widely and rightly condemned comments. The president’s comments were made to the bipartisan group of senators who briefed him yesterday on a proposal that deals with the Dreamers and other immigration issues. In the meantime, Washington’s favorite game, “When, What, How,” plays on. When will the parties reach an agreement to fund the government and deal with other critical must-pass legislation. What will be included in the final agreement. And how will they get the votes.
But the damage to the Republican agenda has already been done, as the GOP spends more time explaining instead of working to pass their agenda for 2018, as articulated by my colleague Charles Cooper in his op-ed in the Hill earlier this week.
On January 19, funding for the government expires and no one is under any illusion that the parties can reach an agreement to lift the funding caps on defense and non-defense spending by that date, or find a solution to deal with DACA and the Dreamers. Now, because of the president’s comments, the job has gotten even tougher. Republicans have stated that they can pass a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution as negotiations continue. And while Democrats have articulated a clear vision of their demands: passing the Dream Act, dollar-for-dollar parity between defense and non-defense spending, and no wall on the Southern Border, have the negotiations already collapsed after the president unleashed his remarks against the bipartisan bill?
Leaders are elected to lead, to make the tough decisions, and to represent the interests of their caucuses and conferences. Democrats have, at times, taken the heat for agreeing to a bipartisan agreement that the “outside groups” do not fully support. But in this this case, Republicans are the ones who will have to make the ultimate decision: leave their president and his distractions behind and negotiate with Democrats or limp from one Continuing Resolution to the next with the voters questioning why nothing is getting done in Congress.