“If a clean DREAM Act does not come to the floor in September,” he warns near the end of this clip, “we’re prepared to attach it to other items this fall until it passes.” I don’t think he means a debt-ceiling hike or Harvey aid. Although legalizing DREAMers is popular, it ain’t so popular that Americans would tolerate a technical default by the United States or see hurricane relief bottled up in the name of making it happen.
What about a shutdown, though? The funding bill that’s expected to pass this month is only a short-term measure, designed to keep the government running until December. There’ll be another standoff in Congress around Christmas. Schumer might be eyeing that as a potential showdown over the DREAM Act, with Democrats possibly willing to block any spending bill until DREAM is attached. I’d like to see how that polls. Or maybe Schumer’s imagining this as a defensive measure. Remember, Trump is looking at the December standoff as leverage to get Democrats to fund the border wall. Schumer might be preparing to counter Trump’s “pay for the wall or we’ll shut down the government” threat with a “pass the DREAM Act or we’ll shut down the government” threat of his own. Normally that would be the makings of a compromise — pass DREAM and fund the wall — but Schumer doesn’t want to fund the wall and he doesn’t really want to pass DREAM either. He wants DREAM to fail and for the GOP to own it so that Democrats can use it as leverage in the midterms.
So Schumer might say to Trump in December, “We’re not paying for the border wall under any circumstances. *But*, in the interest of averting a shutdown and funding the government, we’ll agree to take the DREAM Act off the table too and pass a clean spending bill.” Trump might feel forced to accept that “compromise” even though it’s a double whammy, denying him money for his wall and raising the odds that he’ll be left holding the bag on DACA in March when his six-month deadline expires.
There’s always the chance the GOP will choke, though, and pass a clean DREAM Act under pressure, just as Schumer’s demanding. Paul Ryan told DREAMers at his press conference this morning that they should “rest easy.” If that’s not a near-guarantee that Republicans will cave when the time comes, I don’t know what is.