-- Even before senators reached an agreement Monday to re-open the government and walk the country back from the brink - assessing the political fallout was in full swing. More than 30 Democrats essentially flipped their votes to back a short-term extension in government funding in return for a public promise from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would allow a floor debate and vote on immigration before the new Feb. 8 funding deadline.
Over the next two weeks or so, voters will get a better sense of the real impact and consequences of last weekend’s shutdown, but in the meantime - who blinked and who came out on top - at least for now?
Here’s our take on the political winners and losers:
Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
With the exception of a few rather predictable outliers, McConnell managed to keep the majority of Senate Republicans voting together as a bloc. And in just a few days, his team was able to persuade half of those Republican holdouts and a majority of Democrats to come around and re-open the government. He managed to broker a deal without really putting anything in writing and without having to put himself out there as the negotiator with the House or the White House. All he promised was to bump up immigration on the Senate schedule, which he controls. How the House or the White House react to whatever the Senate potentially passes, remains out of his hands.
President Donald Trump
Like McConnell, while Trump took a hit as the shutdown started, the fact that it was not prolonged was a relative win for him. He did not have to agree to anything new, although he apparently gave assurances to some moderate Democrats Monday that he was still on board for an immigration deal. His staff had repeatedly said the first step needed to be re-opening the government and they got that. They also managed to keep him quiet and not tweeting much over the weekend, which seemed to help cool tempers.
While a fair number of Democrats grimaced behind Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as he delivered news of a deal, a few notable red state Democrats were beaming. If alliances like the one we saw Monday between moderate Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, hold, and more important, if McConnell and the Republican leadership start bringing up bills from pairs like these, the Senate could suddenly become a much more productive body. A number of bills could likely pass tomorrow if the middle 50 or 60 votes on both sides of the aisle in the Senate were prioritized. In a way, Monday was one of the first times McConnell has acknowledged that.
Democratic Whip Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told the nearly 800,000 so-called Dreamers in this country to “not give up”-- and reassured those watching that lawmakers were in fact close to more comprehensive legislation. But the immigration activists we’ve talked to were devastated by the turn of events and unable to find comfort in the supposed deal.
Erika Andiola had been organizing protests, calling Capitol Hill, and lobbying for a long-term solution for immigrants, who, like herself, came to the U.S. as children and know no other country but this one. Andiola told ABC News’ Aaron Katersky Monday she felt Democrats had let her down. “We pushed and we pushed and we were able to get Democrats to come to a consensus, the majority of them, and unfortunately today we saw that they didn't have enough courage. I mean they were just lacking the courage to do what was right and continue to fight to protect Dreamers. “Every day we don't get the Dream Act or a permanent solution for undocumented youth, every day we get more and more Dreamers out of DACA and in threat of deportation.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
If a sweeping, bipartisan immigration bill passes in the next few weeks, Schumer may end up looking like the genius in the room. But Monday he got big blowback from senators and political operatives in his own party for the deal he struck. A serious contingent of Democrats felt he folded too soon and were furious that he urged his fellow Democratic senators to vote to re-open the government without securing more than a handshake pledge from McConnell.
House Democrats and possible 2020 contenders
Jammed by their counterparts, a number of Hill Democrats ended up politically tied to a deal they did not like. While 16 Senate Democrats and 144 House Democrats voted against the deal - including nearly all rumored 2020 candidates - none of those folks looked very powerful Monday. Will a “no” vote on a big deal that still passed be enough to keep activists and grassroots organizers in their corner? Only time will tell. But it’s likely outsider Democrats and maybe even third party potential candidates got a boost Monday.