Commentary: How Trump Can Win a Government Shutdown Over DACA, The Wall and Ending Chain Migration

By Robert Romano


There is a good chance that Senate Democrats will attempt to filibuster whatever 2018 spending bill comes up next week, with funding running out on Jan. 19. The result will be a partial government shutdown.

Congressional Democrats complain that President Donald Trump is not playing along with their desire to permanently legalize illegal immigrants from former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Democrats still want amnesty, and expect to get it in return for almost nothing.

President Trump, for his part, has been adamant on his terms for a deal, calling for an end to chain migration, the visa lottery and he wants long-term funding for the southern border wall. At a Jan. 8 speech to the American Farm Bureau in Nashville, Tenn. Trump promised, “We are going to end chain migration.  We are going to end the lottery system, and we are going to build the wall.”

These battle lines were more than on display at a bipartisan meeting at the White House with members of the House and Senate on Jan. 9.

So far, Trump is sticking to his guns. And he should. The President has the upper hand.

Democrats possess no majorities in the House or Senate, but they can deny cloture in the Senate since spending bills still take 60 votes to get across the finish line. Then, if the bill doesn’t pass, the shutdown occurs, and Democrats just refuse to offer votes until they get everything they want.

But Trump does not have to play along. Trump can turn the tables by issuing a simple warning that this time is different.

President Trump and Republican Congressional leaders can lay down the law that there will be no back-pay for non-essential federal employees after the shutdown ends. No paid vacation.

Immediately, self-preservation would kick and every federal employee with bills to pay would suddenly be the biggest advocate of resolving the shutdown in Trump’s favor.

It’s that simple.

As far as the legislation that is coming forward, Trump deferred to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), whooutlined what the House would be putting forward: “It’s going to address DACA in a permanent way, not a temporary short-term thing. We’re going to address border enforcement and security and the wall. We’re going to address… interior enforcement… We’re going to address chain migration. We’re going to end the visa lottery program. We’re going to address sanctuary cities and Kate’s Law. We think it is a good bill…”

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) outlined what he saw being negotiated: “DACA, ‘cause we all – we’re all in the room [and] want to do it; border security, so we’re not back out here; and chain migration… and then everything else that’s comprehensive is kind of moved to the side.”

To which, President Trump added, “and lottery, by the way.” And McCarthy repeated, “and lottery.”

At the White House press briefing after the meeting, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summarized the meeting, saying, “During the closed-door session, the leadership agreed to negotiate and narrow the focus to four issues: border security, chain migration, visa lottery and DACA.”

Also, per Sanders, border security does include the wall: “We certainly believe that the wall is part of border security, that’s one component of it. We firmly again believe that border security be part of this negotiation and part of the deal.”

At the meeting, Trump was emphatic as he clarified, “If you don’t have the wall, you don’t have security.”

Now, although what Trump and Congressional Republicans are offering as a compromise likely sounds reasonable to most Americans — and it is a compromise since it includes DACA, which Trump campaigned against, but also the wall, restricting chain migration and ending the visa lottery — it was absolutely a non-starter for the Democrat leaders who were in that room.

They want “comprehensive” immigration reform, which means legalizing not just DACA, but every one of the millions of illegal immigrants across the country. Then they’ll talk border security. Later. And that’s it. No ending chain migration or the visa lottery. Democrats would rather do DACA now with nothing else attached and put all of Trump’s reform items off to later, which means never.

Meaning, Democrats in the Senate still intend to shut down the government over the issues they disagree with.

Which is fine, but for a change, there should be consequences for such a shutdown. If Democrats will not accept the very reasonable compromise being offered, Trump needs to change the terms of the debate. It’s time to play hardball. Which is, that non-essential employees should not get paid in any shutdown scenario.

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Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.


Reprinted with permission from



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One Thought to “Commentary: How Trump Can Win a Government Shutdown Over DACA, The Wall and Ending Chain Migration”

  1. Stephen L.

    The last person out of the Senate building should turn out the lights. Or not, I do not care. The WALL!