The Deal, Take Three

My first take on the deal that ended the brief partial government shutdown was that Chuck Schumer caved and the deal was a big win for Republicans. My second take was that my first take might be wrong — that the Democrats may have received more than they are getting credit for, and may be able to parlay what they got into a win, or at least a draw, down the road.

My third take is that my first take is probably been closer to the mark. A reader, Tom Lopez, writes:

I enjoyed reading your post [Take Two] but I’m just not sure I agree that the final deal only includes DACA protection in exchange for some level of funding for the wall. Even though Trump has said a lot about the wall, the real issue is chain migration and I really doubt he will sign a bill without some substantial limitation. Democrats don’t really care about the visa lottery so they will give that away for almost nothing. . . .

My guess is the final deal will provide a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers. The citizenship part is a bargaining chip. Durbin hammered Kirstjen Nielsen the other day about citizenship for the DACA Dreamers. It’s important to Democrats because they’re DEM voters. Putting citizenship on the table I think will get the GOP a big appropriation for the wall (maybe not 100% but a really big number) and something on chain migration. Probably not total elimination but maybe limit chain migration to the more immediate family like minor children and spouse. No more extended family visas (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, parents) which really is what creates the endless chain.

If the senate passes what you suggest, it will fail in the house because Paul Ryan will never bring it to a vote (unless he really is retiring in 2018) and even if he does Trump will never sign it because it would be a huge Chuck Schumer win and Trump hates the other guy winning as much as he hates losing.

This makes sense, I think. The Democrats probably can’t get a path to citizenship for the DACA population without giving Republicans more than just a serious wall. Republicans probably can’t more than just a serious wall in exchange for DACA protection with no path to citizenship.

The questions are (1) Do enough Democrats want a pathway to citizenship badly enough to give Republicans more than just a wall and (2) do enough Republicans want more than just a serious wall badly enough to grant a pathway to citizenship.

The answer to the first question, I believe, is probably yes. For Democrats, the lure of so many potential new voters is close to irresistible. Plus, I assume some Democratic Senators genuinely care about the DACA “kids” (just as some Republican Senators do). Remember too that it won’t require a large percentage of the Democratic bloc to get to 60 votes on a bill Republicans support with something close to unanimity.

The answer to the second question may also be yes. They would grant a path to citizenship for the DACA population in a heartbeat, I believe, it they could end chain migration. The Dems would give them that, but maybe as our reader suggests, they would agree to some scaling back.

At a minimum, the Dems would likely give up the diversity lottery and throw in a few enforcement concessions in exchange for a path to citizenship. This might be enough, along with the wall, to get a deal done.

Finally, let’s not underestimate Mitch McConnell’s ability to use the leverage he has gained from Schumer’s retreat. The Dems, not the Republicans, are now the seriously divided bloc. McConnell, fox that he is, can exploit this.

What about the fact that Schumer has “taken off the table” his agreement to fund the wall, now that the deal he tried to reach during the shutdown showdown has failed? His need to grandstand in this fashion is a “tell” that his position is weak. However, his gambit is not serious.

I couldn’t begin to count the number of negotiations I’ve been in where a lawyer (sometimes me) took a settlement offer off the table, usually to pacify a client, only to end up settling for less favorable terms than those in that offer.

To get DACA amnesty, Schumer would, I believe, concede a serious wall. To get a path to citizenship, he’d likely concede more. And if he wouldn’t, there’s a good chance enough Dems would defect to enable one or the other (or both) of these deals to pass.

Or it seems to me on my third attempt to analyze the state of play.


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