Congress moved back from the brink of total dysfunction Monday when the Senate voted to end the Democratic filibuster blocking a House-approved bill to continue funding for the government. A vote to approve the temporary funding bill was expected to easily pass later in the afternoon.
The welcome breakthrough came after three days of fruitful negotiations between a group of senators from both parties determined to reach a compromise. We salute them. The two parties’ leaders — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York — deserve credit for resolving the issue quickly.
Democrats agreed to end their filibuster even though the funding bill failed to address the fate of the young immigrants brought to America illegally as children, the so-called Dreamers. In return, McConnell promised to allow debate and a vote within 30 days on bills aimed at resolving the Dreamers’ status.
The Dreamers have been living under a limited form of protection ever since former President Barack Obama used executive action to grant about 800,000 of them to sign up for work permits. President Donald Trump announced in September that those protections would end March 5, but he urged Congress to replace them with new legislation before that deadline to stave off the anticipated mass deportations.
Despite Trump’s call last week for a “bill of love” to deal with the Dreamers, Republicans in Congress has been unable to present such legislation. On Friday, Democrats carried out their threat to vote against any spending bill that did include a fix.
Shutdown politics are a losing strategy for either party. As the party in control of both Congress and the White House, Republicans failed when they could not pass a spending bill. The Democrats, too, chose poorly to risk a shutdown over a single immigration issue.
Still, we’re pleased that senior senators from both parties have found a way to work together to reopen the government and plot a path forward for the important work of immigration reform.
That reform remains a central task for the Republicans who, after all, control both houses of Congress and the White House. Fortunately, Monday’s compromise gives both Democrats and moderate Republicans a chance to draft and then vote on a bill that could move America on immigration.
Monday’s compromise also provides an opening for Trump to showcase the leadership and deal-making for which he so often credits himself. Such leadership has been absent in the past week.
There are enough votes in the moderate middle in the Senate to pass a fix for the Dreamers. With the president’s sustained support, such a bill could even go further, addressing key questions of border security and the status of 12 million other immigrants here illegally.
Trump has said he’d be willing to embrace such a compromise. Now he must show he meant it, and work to make it happen.
– The Dallas Morning News