Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, nearly every Democratic senator, and probably a few Republicans are on the brink of shutting down the government. Some liberals will try to muddle that fact, but they shouldn't — not only because it's misleading, but also because they should proudly say what their legislators are doing: Shutting down the government in order to protect illegal immigrants who were brought in as children.
If they think this is a noble enough policy goal over which to shut down the government, why pretend they're up to anything else?
The House of Representatives passed a bill funding the government, and it includes an unrelated policy rider Democrats said they also really wanted: a long-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which subsidizes health insurance for children of middle-class and working-class families.
About half of the Senate supports the bill as of Friday morning. The opponents (all Senate Dems and a couple of Senate GOPers) nearly all object because the government funding bill doesn't include a second unrelated policy rider: a measure granting permanent legal relief and permanent residence to those illegal immigrants brought here as children, and who have followed the law since then. This is making permanent Obama's temporary policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
If the advocates of permanent DACA were to back down, and try to pass their provision next week, the government would stay open. But they're not backing down.
Sometimes it's tricky to assign blame on shutdowns. Maybe one side wants $4.2 trillion and the other side wants $3.8 trillion, and so it's just a stalemate. But when one side wants to add non-appropriations to a measure and the other side rejects those, it seems the side demanding the policy riders fairly gets the blame. This is why Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, got the blame for the 2013 shutdown: his "defund Obamacare" measure was legislative in nature, and not merely appropriations.
In this case, the DACA folks are the ones demanding a non-appropriations measure be tacked onto an appropriations bill. They're using the threat of a shutdown as the lever by which to achieve their policy goals.
The thing is, they could, next week, perhaps use immigration policy as a lever by which to get a DACA fix. Say, build a wall and make a plan to end chain migration. But they've decided if they are going to pay a price for DACA, they'd rather it be shutting down the government.
That's fair play. A government shutdown isn't catastrophic. Most of the government runs anyone on autopilot. Is it disruptive? Yes, but getting your desired policy sometimes involves flipping over a few tables.