Dem Shutdown: Sittin' on the DACA the Fray...
Most federal workers weren’t planning on a long weekend — but thanks to Senate Democrats, that’s exactly what they got. Apparently, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) idea of solving the government’s problems is closing it! And while there are plenty of days we’d agree, this weekend’s shutdown is just the latest evidence that the Left has no intention of cooperating on anything — including the issues it cares about.
Like 2013’s showdown, when Democrats were willing to shut the government’s doors over Planned Parenthood funding, this latest standoff was the Left’s desperate attempt to back GOP leaders into a corner on a hotly debated issue: amnesty. At the center of the conflict is DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As Heritage’s experts explain, “Unilaterally created by President Obama, DACA provides pseudo-legal status to illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as minors. It gives them a promise that they won’t be deported, as well as providing them with work authorizations and access to Social Security and other government benefits.”
Obviously, the idea is controversial — but no more controversial than the Democrats’ strategy for dealing with it. As House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) points out, the irony of the shutdown — which ended Monday afternoon when Congress passed a short-term funding bill — is that Congress was in the middle of tackling DACA when liberals pulled the plug. Schumer’s problem, Ryan argues, is that he doesn’t want Republicans to deal with the real issue. “DACA is a symptom of a broken immigration system. We want to fix the root cause of this problem while we deal with DACA so that we don’t have 700,000 more DACA kids in five years. That’s common sense,” he said on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.”
“… People don’t get paid. People get furloughed. We have soldiers fighting for us, troops overseas fighting for us who [wouldn’t get] paid.” What’s more, he went on, “[Democrats] shut it down over an unrelated immigration issue with a deadline weeks away. And what’s so baffling about this was we were negotiating in good faith on DACA all the same… We actually want to solve this problem. So it’s not as if we were saying, ‘No way, no how… No discussions.’ They blew up the discussions that were already underway.”
Although the government’s lights are back on, thanks to a continuing resolution that passed 81-18, the fact of the matter is this: Democrats were completely indifferent to the millions of Americans caught in the crossfire — including the men and women serving our nation in uniform. “Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration,” President Trump tweeted, “Can’t let that happen!” Since this weekend, the order had gone out: training was on hold for more than 110,000 Guard and Reserve personnel. As FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin pointed out, this impasse might not have been a big deal for the average DC bureaucrat who doesn’t mind waiting for back-pay, “but it’s a huge deal for a Private First Class, who lives paycheck to paycheck. It’s the young, enlisted troops who are hurt by this. How are their families supposed to get groceries if they aren’t being paid? It’s a moral dilemma.”
And it wasn’t just the military Democrats were willing to hurt. Nine million kids are waiting for the health care coverage that was shelved by Schumer’s shutdown. Yet Democrats were willing to hold that up for the 700,000 who are here illegally? “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” the White House Press Office said in a statement.
With the tax cuts starting to kick in, Republicans’ popularity on the rise, and the State of the Union a week away, there’s nothing liberals want more than distract and delay. That may have worked for a weekend, but they’ll have a tough time burying the progress of the last year with what has become known as the Schumer Shutdown.
For now, at least, the threat of a long-term stalemate is over. But it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen in three weeks when this latest short-term funding bill expires.
Originally published here.
In Mid-East, Pence Tackles Peace
While DC ground to a halt, the White House’s work in the Middle East was full-steam ahead. Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend meeting with Jordanian and Egyptian leaders, underscoring America’s foreign policy priorities and building on shared concerns.
As part of his diplomatic mission, Pence announced yesterday in the Israeli parliament that the United States was accelerating its timetable for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. “In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and the embassy will open next year.” After careful talks with the Jordanian king and Egyptian president, the vice president treaded carefully, explaining, “Our president made his decision in the best interest of the United States, but he also made it clear that we believe this decision is in the best interest of peace.”
His speech was a strong defense of the White House’s decision and a personal reassurance that the alliance Barack Obama nearly destroyed is stronger than ever. “The United States and Israel have long stood together to confront the terrible evil of terrorism, and so we will continue. And across the Middle East, Arab leaders have responded, as well, to the President’s call with unprecedented action to root out radicalism and prove the emptiness of its apocalyptic promises. The winds of change,” he went on, “can already be witnessed across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners. Old foes are finding new ground for cooperation. And the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause as never before.”
As proof of this new climate, the fissures between Israel and Jordan have been at least partially repaired. Late last week, the Israeli foreign ministry offered its apologies for a shooting by an Israeli security guard that killed two Jordanian citizens. Relations between the two nations had been so strained that Jordan closed Israel’s embassy in Amman. Now, thanks to this gesture (which was likely at the Trump administration’s prompting), the office has reopened. For people in the region, it’s just another example of the positive influence the U.S. can have in preserving vital security ties.
For Vice President Pence, religious liberty continues to be on the table of topics for discussion with our friends in the Middle East. As Open Doors just reported in its “2018 Watch List,” 215 million Christians continue to be severely persecuted for their faith, “mostly by Muslims.” They include, the organization points out, “Muslims from among America’s closest allies (Saudi Arabia #12 worst persecutor) and Muslims from its opponents (Iran #10); Muslims from rich nations (Qatar #27 and Kuwait #34) and Muslims from poor nations (Afghanistan #2, Somalia #3, and Yemen #9); Muslims from widely recognized "radical” nations (Pakistan #5), and Muslims from “moderate” nations (Malaysia #23 and Indonesia #38).“
If America has any hope of easing the suffering, it will take more conversations like Mike Pence’s and actions. Actions like the Senate confirming Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) for Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom. Sam’s nomination passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee late last week, but it will take some prodding from you to finish the job. Contact your senators and urge them to expedite the vote for Gov. Brownback! Innocent lives depend on it.
Originally published here.
Under Trump, a Healthy Respect for HHS
When the American people elected Donald Trump, they won a lot more than the White House. They also won a makeover of government agencies bogged down by eight years of radical social policy. Nowhere is that more obvious than the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
More than 12 months into the agency’s reboot, liberals continue to be baffled by politics’ most basic principle: when an administration changes, so does its agenda. In a lengthy Politico expose, Dan Diamond tries to dissect the swing toward conservative, science-based policy at one of the largest government offices. Insisting "religious activists” are “on the rise” in HHS, Diamond steers the conversation toward some very familiar faces: former FRCers Shannon Royce and Charmaine Yoest, and longtime movement allies Valerie Huber and Roger Severino.
Ticking through a long list of accomplishments, like redirecting “family planning” dollars to abstinence education, protecting conscience, renewing real partnerships with faith-based groups, and stricter abortion regulations, Diamond explains how putting evangelicals and Catholics in charge of messaging has empowered Trump’s base. Shannon had a simple response: “One of the axioms of politics is that personnel is policy. We have such an amazing team at HHS that is absolutely pro-life across the spectrum.”
For Trump voters, few things are as rewarding as the turnaround at HHS. While liberal reporters continue to question evangelicals’ support of Trump, the agency’s successes ought to help explain conservatives’ appreciation for the president. Few departments have given Christians more grief than HHS. Under Obama’s HHS mandate, it became one of the main weapons turned on conservatives in the fight for conscience. From about-faces on radical sex ed to abortion policy, the White House is turning the Health and Human Services into a virtual promise-keeping factory.
With all of the other noise about 10-year-old Trump rumors, evangelicals deal in what they know — the facts. “I can promise you, he is not President Perfect. But I don’t think I’ve seen a ‘President Perfect’ yet… When the president says he’s going to do something, he does it. And that’s what I appreciate about him,” Rev. Franklin Graham explained. Historically, America has never seen a wave of sweeping policy reversals like Trump’s. Liberal presidents don’t hesitate to roll back conservative gains. But rarely, if ever, do we see a Republican president bold enough to stop a bad agenda — let alone overturn it. Yet, that’s exactly what we’ve witnessed from Donald Trump on some of the most explosive issues of the day.
What most liberals don’t seem to understand is that when Christians went to the voting booth, they didn’t choose a leader based on personality, but policy. And on everything from life and religious liberty to the military and Supreme Court, he hasn’t proven conservatives wrong. Now, our support for the president isn’t unconditional, but until he gives us reason to doubt, Trump’s actions only reinforce the decision most of us made in 2016. Obviously, the Left wants to shame Christians for the president’s past moral failings. The goal is the same as always: marginalize and stigmatize conservatives so that they disengage or lose focus. Don’t let them. Influence is a two-way straight. Never underestimate yours in bringing this president along on the values that matter most.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council.