Forcing a government shutdown over immigration could backfire on Democrats by jeopardizing their political standing even further with coveted union members who jumped parties in droves to back President Trump.
Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to fund the government, and Democrats are angling to tie passage of a temporary budget to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump ended, which protected children brought to the United States illegally by their parents from deportation.
Such an issue could divide union members if the government shuts down and workers are furloughed.
“I think there is going to be a lot of debate within our own membership on whether that is something that people are willing to accept a shutdown over,” said Carolyn Federoff, the vice president for the American Federation of Government Employees at the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “We represent Border Patrol. We represent ICE. But we also represent employees in other agencies who, shall we say, have a more liberal bent. … I know our membership is probably split on that issue (DACA).”
But congressional Democrats saw a rare opportunity to use leverage against the Republican majority.
“If this bill passes, there’ll be no incentive to negotiate, and we’ll be right back here in a month with the same problems at our feet,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Trump, however, wants immigration talks tied to the construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
A shutdown would affect an estimated 4,000 local union employees, Federoff said. That could range from unpaid furlough days to, in the case of Transportation Security Administration workers or Veterans Affairs hospital orderlies, still showing up to work but not receiving a paycheck until the shutdown ends, she said.
During an appearance in Pennsylvania yesterday, Trump tried to rally his supporters against Democrats.
“I really believe the Democrats want a shutdown to get off the subject of the tax cuts,” he said, “because they’re doing so well.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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