After a second government shutdown in the last three weeks—albeit one that lasted all of six or so hours—Congress passed a sweeping budget bill early Friday morning. The deal does many things, several of which involve the word billion. But when it comes to immigration there are only two things of note: It does nothing at all to protect the Dreamers, and it simultaneously removes the last shred of leverage Democrats had in the immigration debate this year.
And make no mistake, Democrats were willing participants in this. The budget bill could not have become law without their help. In the Senate, Chuck Schumer teamed up with his opposing number, Mitch McConnell, to unveil the package in the upper chamber, where a total of 37 of 49 Democrats ended up voting for it (once they finally had the chance). And over in the House, Nancy Pelosi was willing to hold the floor for eight hours to rail against the deal, but she wasn’t willing to go all out and whip her caucus to vote no with her. In the end, 73 House Democrats voted for the bill, more than the 67 spending-averse Republicans who voted against it. The bipartisan label gets thrown around a lot in Washington—often as soon as there is a single member of the opposing party on board—but this was a bipartisan deal by pretty much any measure.
Now before I tackle the twin political questions of What were the Democrats thinking? and What does this mean for the midterms?, it is necessary to pause and acknowledge the real-world consequences here. The decision by lawmakers to leave the fate of the Dreamers unknown indefinitely is one that adversely impacts millions of people in direct and indirect ways.