2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPoll: Majority of voters say more police are needed amid rise in crime America's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE’s (N.Y.) efforts to unify Democrats and prevent a shutdown are complicated by lawmakers with presidential hopes who are pushing for a hard-line stance against any short-term spending measure that doesn’t protect certain young immigrants from deportation.

Senate Democrats such as Cory BookerCory BookerWomen urge tech giants to innovate on office return Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE of New Jersey, Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandTreat broadband as infrastructure and we have a chance to get it right House panel looks to help military sexual assault survivors To make energy green, remove red tape MORE of New York and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMeghan McCain predicts DeSantis would put Harris 'in the ground' in 2024 matchup Honeymoon's over: Biden's record may have Americans demanding a divorce The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness MORE of California have signaled they will not support a short-term spending bill that leaves the fate of these immigrants, often called Dreamers, up in the air.

All three potential presidential candidates, along with two others, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAmerica's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries This week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE (I-Vt.), voted against a recent four-week spending stopgap that did not address the plight of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

ADVERTISEMENT

They argue that taking a principled stand won’t hurt Democrats in tough races because there’s strong bipartisan support for protecting Dreamers.

One Democrat close to Harris said the senator is open to a deal, “but she wants to see what it looks like.”

“She has said she wouldn’t vote for any spending bill without DACA being addressed,” the Democrat said. “She’s open to bipartisan negotiation, but she’s not going to vote for a bill until DACA is addressed beforehand.”

After all, the Democrat added, “it’s up to Republicans. They control the House, the Senate and the White House. It’s their job to fund the government.” 

Democrats up for reelection in states won by President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Lack of transatlantic cooperation on trade threatens global climate change goals MORE in 2016 have sung a different tune.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Graham says he has COVID-19 'breakthrough' infection Infrastructure deal would require study on job losses from Keystone's end MORE (D), who saw Trump win his home state of West Virginia by 42 points, says he won’t vote against a short-term spending measure that doesn’t include legislation to replace DACA.

“We’re trying to find [a deal], but shutting down the government is not going to help them,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday.

Democratic aides brush off any sense of friction, saying Schumer’s job isn’t really that tough on the issue because Republicans will take the blame for a shutdown given their control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Senior Democratic leadership aides are trying to assure jittery incumbents. They emphasize that Trump’s combustible remarks — he told officials at a White House meeting last week that the United States shouldn’t take more immigrants from “shithole countries” — are giving them more leverage in the blame game.

“At this point, the blame for any catastrophe this week is squarely on the president’s back,” said a Democratic leadership aide. “Senate Democrats have been reasonable, we compromised on the wall, on chain migration, and ended the diversity lottery in a bipartisan deal.”

A bipartisan group of senators including Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinCongress should butt out of Supreme Court's business Inmates grapple with uncertainty over Biden prison plan Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (Ill.) and Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Graham says he has COVID-19 'breakthrough' infection Graham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar MORE (S.C.) plan to introduce a compromise immigration bill Wednesday. The legislation, however, failed to win Trump’s support last week.

Democrats won a victory the last time the government shut down in 2013 because of a fight over ObamaCare, but the present situation poses more risk.

Control of the Senate in 2019 depends on the reelection of 10 Democrats in states that voted for Trump, including Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Some allied Democratic strategists agree with leadership aides who predict that vulnerable centrists have little to fear because Republicans would likely take the blame for a shutdown.

“I think fundamentally this is a bigger problem for Republicans than it is for Democrats,” said Jon Selib, a Democratic strategist who served as chief of staff to then-Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusCryptocurrency industry lobbies Washington for 'regulatory clarity' Bottom line Bottom line MORE (D-Mont.).

He believes a shutdown over immigration would pose a bigger problem for Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDemocrat Jacky Rosen becomes 22nd senator to back bipartisan infrastructure deal 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 On The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare MORE, a vulnerable Republican whose home state of Nevada has a large Hispanic population, than any Democrat up for reelection.

“How would you like to be Dean Heller this week? He’s pinched up against a Hispanic constituency who has proven to turn out and vote and a hard-right-wing base. It’s a really difficult issue for him,” Selib said.

But some Democratic strategists warn that a high-profile fight over immigration is not a smart fight in the states that will determine the next Senate majority.

They say candidates such as Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate This week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE (D-Mont.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests MORE (D-N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySupreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Republicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE (D-Ind.) are better off debating the recently passed tax-reform bill, which polls suggest is unpopular and seen as tilted toward the rich.

“They’ve got to get back to the issues that impact constituents in their states,” said Steve Jarding, a Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “If immigration is not a big issue in their state, why end up talking about it?”

A survey released Tuesday by Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm, showed a majority of respondents in 12 Senate battleground states want to protect Dreamers from deportation and would see Trump and congressional Republicans as more to blame for a shutdown.

Democrats fighting for their political lives aren’t in the mood to take any chances.

Donnelly, who is up for reelection in a state that gave Trump a 19-point margin of victory over Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries Clintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections MORE, said Monday that “Congress needs to do its job and work in a bipartisan way to keep the government open and find a solution to protect DACA youth.”

Tester last month called threatening a government shutdown to gain leverage on immigration “stupid talk.”

“You don’t want to shut the government down,” he warned.

And Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGiuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri McCaskill shares new July 4 family tradition: Watching Capitol riot video Joe Manchin's secret MORE (D) of Missouri, a state Trump won by nearly 20 points, warned her leadership not to draw a line in the sand over immigration. She also expressed some frustration with the influence of presidential politics.

“We’ve got people running for president all trying to find their base, and then you’ve got people from Trump states that are trying to continue to legislate the way we always have — by negotiation,” she said.

Schumer is also under pressure from activists who were outraged that the December spending bill tiptoed around the immigration debate.

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus marched over to Schumer’s office in the Capitol last month to ask why he wasn’t rallying his caucus to vote down the spending measure.

Twenty-nine Democrats and Sanders — more than half the Senate Democratic caucus — ended up voting against the measure.