Could the federal government's shutdown showdown be resolved by a couple of New York guys just sitting down and talking New York to each other until they reached an agreement? Donald Trump and Sen. Chuck Schumer gave it a shot Friday.
Recall that after Trump shocked Republicans by agreeing with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last fall, Schumer suggested it was his and Trump's shared New York roots that might have made the difference. As Business Insider wrote at the time:
But as Schumer acknowledged, the pair do have their New York roots to fall back on, something that some believe gives the Democratic leader a leg up on Ryan and McConnell when all are negotiating with Trump.
“The one thing we have is we're New Yorkers,” Schumer told The Times. “We're pretty direct, and we talk right at each other.”
Perhaps remembering just how much positive press he got for that show of bipartisanship — though he later reneged on the deal when the rest of the GOP revolted — Trump on Friday invited Schumer to the White House for another conversation. Perhaps he hoped the two men could talk New Yawk until they agreed on a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government and head off a shutdown.
Republicans on Capitol Hill were reportedly worried when they heard about the meeting, fearing that Trump would sell them out. As it turned out, they need not have worried. When Schumer returned to Capitol Hill, he told the press he and Trump “made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements.”
Schumer at least pledged to keep talking. But it seems that as of late in the afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has limited choices. He can't secure the Democratic and some Republican votes he needs without making a deal on DACA. But if he agrees to add a fix to the program to the CR that doesn't satisfy Trump or the anti-immigration hardliners, he might lose enough Republican votes to cancel out the ones he gains by making a deal.
On the other hand, if you really want to read the tea leaves closely, almost nothing has leaked out of the Schumer-Trump meeting. If it had gone that badly, someone likely would have tried to anonymously spin the results to some news outlet or other to put pressure on the other side.
The bottom line is that Congress and the White House still seem far apart on a deal. Which makes a shutdown, with all its attendant problems, look even more likely than it did Friday morning.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.