Schumer: Democrats 'cut the best deal we could'

Schumer: Democrats 'cut the best deal we could'
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday defended his decision to back a spending measure and end the government shutdown without securing protections for certain young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Schumer said Senate Democrats "cut the best deal" possible in ending the shutdown and getting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Trump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' MORE (R-Ky.) to agree to address the legal protections for the immigrants – commonly called "Dreamers" – in February.

"All of us in the Democratic caucus — not just the moderates but the liberals as well — came to the view that if we carry [the shutdown] on much longer, A.) no one would budge; the public would lose support for the shutdown — the public does not love shutdowns — and we would actually lose support for Dreamers too, because people love the Dreamers but don’t want the government shutdown for it," he said.

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Pushed by Maddow on whether Senate Democrats caved to political pressure from Republicans, Schumer said that his caucus's hands were tied in the matter, because the GOP holds the majority in both chambers of Congress. 

"We’re doing everything we can. But what people have to understand is, we don’t have a magic wand," he said. "If we became the majority next year, if the House becomes the majority, we will get Dreamers [protected]."

Schumer also acknowledged that there was no guarantee that McConnell would keep his commitment to address the issue early next month, but said Democrats would "hold his feet to the fire."

Schumer and several Senate Democrats have faced scrutiny since they moved to back a spending deal on Monday that ended the government shutdown, but fell short of achieving their stated goal of codifying the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE rescinded that program in September, prompting calls from Democrats and some Republicans to swiftly pass legislation enshrining its protections in law.

Since voting on the spending deal on Monday, however, immigrant advocates have accused Schumer and others of capitulating to political pressure from Republicans, who sought to pin responsibility for the shutdown on Democrats.