POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Democrats say president’s harsh remarks make deal-making harder, shutdown more likely

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

From a White House adept at shocking sensibilities, this week’s derogatory comments, attributed to the president, about Haiti and other countries has drawn international condemnation, and, according to some Democrats, is threatening to derail any hopes of a working relationship on critical issues and makes a looming government shutdown more likely.

“Well, we’re trying to come to some compromise, some agreement, which does not sell out anyone’s values or priorities,” said a somewhat exasperated Rep. Bill Pascrell. “Whether we can do that by Jan. 19, when we run out of money, I have real doubts about.”

Speaking at an event calling for permanent full funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP, Pascrell and Sen. Bob Menendez, decried the president’s comments, but Menendez said it was important to focus on the issues being negotiated, including immigration reform, a solution to which Democrats are making part of a deal to avert a shut down.

“We met all the president’s challenges, and so I’m really chagrined that the despicable comments that were made by the president is the response to what we tried to do,” added Menendez. “But I’m not going to stop fighting, so I’ve talked to my colleagues in the Gang of Six. We are building momentum in the Senate, getting more Republicans and Democratic sponsors for the outline of the proposal, and so we will challenge the administration to ultimately either accept our proposal or show us what is their proposal.”

The president tweeted Friday that he never used the vulgarity he’s accused of using. And, at least these two Democrats were trying to sidestep the president’s comments in the interest of advocating for CHIP, a program that has bipartisan support.

“According to the CBO analysis, funding CHIP would save us $6 billion,” noted Menendez. “So, if my colleagues don’t view health care for kids as a moral imperative, they need to see it as an economic imperative.”

But DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is freshest on lawmakers minds. It was a discussion/negotiation with Democrats on immigration Thursday that prompted the president’s alleged slurs.

“People have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and sitcoms,” snapped Pascrell. “This is reality, so we need somebody who’s real leading us at this particular point. I don’t know how charitably more I can say it, and I’m biting my tongue as I say it.”

Democrats lambasted Republican threats of government shutdowns when Obama was president, but it appears that, especially in light of the current president’s comments, it’s a weapon they are now prepared to deploy.