Congress has until Friday to reach a budget deal that would keep the government open. But with the clock ticking, a deal does not seem close. President Trump’s “shithole” comments have set negotiations back in the Senate on provisions related to DACA. In the House, meanwhile, Republicans are effectively negotiating with themselves. But in both chambers, the same fundamental dynamic is playing out. Republicans control the government, but hardline factions within the party, which are decrying any immigration compromise included in the spending bill as “amnesty,” are effectively holding the negotiations hostage.
In the Senate, these tensions boiled over on Tuesday in a hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. While Democrats grilled Nielsen about what was said in the “shithole” meeting, Republican Lindsey Graham, who had reached an immigration deal with Democrat Dick Durbin last week, said that the shutdown negotiations had turned into a “shitstorm.” His colleague Tom Cotton, meanwhile, criticized the Durbin-Graham compromise as “mass amnesty.”
In the House, things are even worse. Unlike the Senate, there are enough Republicans in the House to pass a bill without Democratic votes. But the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus has once again emerged as a roadblock. On Tuesday evening, conservatives in the House revolted against a compromise bill pushed by Paul Ryan that would extend government funding for another month and include funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years—a compromise that could win support from Democrats in both chambers and avert a shutdown.
Conservatives are pushing a deal that would fund the government for a month and the Pentagon for a year—a deal that would make hardliners less willing to budge if the government were to shut down in a month over DACA. But Senate Democrats, who are increasingly pushing for a fix for DACA now, have no reason to take that deal.
All of these factors—Trump’s “shithole” comments, Democratic anxiety over DACA, the revolt of Republican hardliners—have made a government shutdown more likely than it was a week ago, when a compromise seemed near. With two days to go until the deadline, there’s little bringing the factions within the Republican Party together.