Chuck Schumer Owns This Terrorist

After a two-day impasse, enough Senate Democrats agreed to pass a short-term continuing budget resolution Monday, the first step to ending a government shutdown that began early Saturday morning. The measure passed overwhelmingly, with just 18 senators, mostly Democrats, opposing. The House of Representatives, which had passed a different CR last week, subsequently passed the Senate’s version Monday, which will extend government funding into February.

It was a defeat for Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats, who last week had blocked the House’s original CR and precipitated the shutdown. The Democratic objection was over the resolution’s inaction on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created by President Obama through an executive action to offer protection against deportation to those who had been brought illegally into the United States as minors. The current administration is ending the program, though President Trump has repeatedly said he’d like to see a legislative solution to the problem—as long as sufficient border security measures and funding for a southern border wall were included.

In the short-term, Schumer’s gambit to force action on DACA by forcing a shutdown on the Republican-controlled government was a failure once it was clear President Trump was either unwilling to or uninterested in publicly negotiating the funding impasse. There were no presidential rants on Twitter that might have drawn attention to the shutdown and further pinned blame on the GOP for it, nor did Americans seem particularly outraged. Schumer was denied a scapegoat, and by Monday he was willing to offer Mitch McConnell sufficient Democratic support for the CR in exchange for a promise from the Republican leader to address DACA soon or hold a straight up-or-down vote on a “clean” amnesty bill for those recipients in February. It looked like Schumer needed to reread his copy of The Art of the Deal.

But the GOP’s rare victory in a government shutdown showdown may end up short-lived. Thanks to the McConnell-Schumer deal, the next big policy fight to consume the White House and the Republican Congress for the next several weeks won’t be infrastructure or welfare reform but immigration—the one issue that divides the party more than any other. There remain real and deep disagreements (particularly among Republican senators) over what sort of immigration regime the country should have; think Tom Cotton on one side and Lindsey Graham on the other.

The president himself has been ambiguous about what proposals on DACA and border security he would back. Just look at the White House’s first few pronouncements following the Senate vote Monday. In a statement, Trump pointed to his assurance that “once the government is funded, my administration will work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration.”

But at the White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly declined to clarify whether the president supports a pathway to citizenship or some other legal status for former DACA recipients “We have said that we would support a permanent solution for those in the DACA program,” Sanders said. “The number of people that are already in that program, we do hope to find a permanent solution that would address that.” So is Trump ambivalent about what kind of permanent solution gets passed? “I think that’s part of the negotiation process,” Sanders said. “But right now, again, we want a permanent solution for that program.”

One More Thing—It’s remarkable that Trump, who won his race for president with a very distinct message on immigration, has been unable to resolve the party’s divide on the topic. The GOP looks increasingly like the party of Trump institutionally and politically, but the moderate Republican voices on immigration appear not to have moved rightward much at all. Blame Trump’s unpopularity, his divisive personal style, his ambiguity in public and private—or all of the above.

This is an acute example of a broader problem for the Trump-era GOP, as I write in this week’s magazine:

The lack of consensus among the party leadership is just a taste of the disagreements among the rank and file, who can’t seem to agree on anything from defense spending to surveillance to immigration, tax policy, and trade. Legislative fights in 2017 were about cobbling together a majority amid very thin margins, with neither the congressional leadership nor the White House making it easy for GOP fence-sitters to come their way. Republicans were successful on tax reform because there was a longstanding, broad agreement on the need for cuts.

The lesson here is that while Trump was able to take advantage of the Republican party’s divisions to win its nomination, he has neither the interest nor the ability to resolve its ideological differences. Expect them to simmer and, at times, boil over for the rest of his presidency.

Op-Ed of the Day—Yuval Levin, writing for the New York Times: “Yes, Trump Is Weak. So Is Congress.”

Mueller Watch—My colleague Andrew Egger has a good summary of the controversy surrounding the missing text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI employees who were engaging in an extramarital affair. The couple, it was revealed in an inspector general’s report investigating their affair, had exchanged texts expressing anti-Trump sentiments, all while Strzok was working on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Strzok was later the lead investigator on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling before he was removed from that post once his texts with Page were discovered.

“Imagine how Mueller feels,” Egger writes, “to have to answer so frequently for the partisans and incompetents surrounding him.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Swan of Axios reports that current FBI director Christopher Wray has “threatened to resign” thanks to pressure from President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for Wray to fire his deputy director, Andrew McCabe. “Trump and other Republicans have been hammering McCabe — who was selected by the White House as acting director after the Comey firing — for months on Twitter,” Swan notes.

With the common enemy of ISIS apparently in retreat, Turkish troops are turning on the American-backed Kurdish militias in northwest Syria. On Monday, the White House urged the two states, both NATO allies, to focus on defeating ISIS and bringing the Syrian civil war to a peaceful conclusion.

“We hear and take seriously Turkey’s legitimate security concerns and are committed to working with Turkey as a NATO ally,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Increased violence in Afrin disrupts what was a relatively stable area of Syria. It distracts from international efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS. It could be exploited by ISIS and al Qaeda for resupply and safe haven. And it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.”

Earlier Monday, Turkish forces moved to capture Afrin, a town near the Turkey-Syria border under Kurdish control. The Kurdish forces are allied with the United States against the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war, but Turkey believes them to be a terrorist threat.

“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint in its military actions and rhetoric, ensure that its operations are limited in scope and duration, ensure humanitarian aid continues, and avoid civilian casualties,” Sanders said.

Are the Philadelphia Eagles now America’s team? My colleague Jonathan V. Last makes the best case for this ridiculous assertion. Come for the tribute to Nick Foles and stay for the video after insane video of Iggles fans going nuts after winning the NFC Championship Sunday.

Song of the Day— “When I Hear My Name” by the White Stripes

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