Trump Signs Measure To Reopen The Federal Government
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Federal government workers are back on the job today. The government has reopened. This follows a change of heart by some Senate Democrats. Thirty-two of them opted to side with Republicans and restore government funding through February 8. Congress now has just three weeks to reach an agreement on government spending as well as on immigration. So what's going to happen now? Let's ask NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Hey, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, David.
GREENE: All right. So this whole shutdown revolved around DACA. That is the program protecting young immigrants who are in the country illegally as children. No agreement was reached on that. So what's changed here?
HORSLEY: Not much has changed for DACA recipients. They're still in limbo just as they've been since last September when President Trump announced plans to phase out the Obama-era protections they've been getting. Last Friday, the senators who voted to shut down the government were demanding permanent protection for these young immigrants. They didn't get that. What they did get was a pledge from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to find some kind of solution over the next few weeks - or failing that, to have an open debate on the Senate floor. That's a pretty thin reed, but it was enough to change the votes of 30 senators and reopen the government.
GREENE: So you have Democrats wanting it to look like Republicans have been standing in the way of protecting young immigrants. You have Republicans who are now almost doing a victory dance saying that the Democrats were playing political games holding the government shutdown for several days - any sense for who came out ahead here?
HORSLEY: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell almost smiled yesterday. Progressive Democrats, on the other hand, they're the ones sending angry emails that their allies capitulated. The real winners here, I think, are going to be hard to assess until we actually get through this next period and see if there is, in fact, some protection for the dreamers. But, you know, there was a group of centrist senators, both Democrats and Republicans, who wanted to both help DACA recipients and keep the government open. They succeeded yesterday in beating back the far left, the progressive wing who were insisting that DACA protection be put above everything else. The question now is can they beat back the far right who want more draconian changes in the American immigration system.
GREENE: And, Scott, where is President Trump in all this?
HORSLEY: He is still looking for more money for border security. He wants an end to the visa lottery. He wants big changes to the legal immigration system to make it more weighted to high-skilled immigrants and less weighted to family members of those who are already here. Over the weekend, the president stayed largely out of sight, and that was probably helpful for his fellow Republicans. We'll see if he plays a more active role going forward. He did meet yesterday once it became clear that the government was going to reopen. He met with six Republicans, including a couple of hard-liners, Tom Cotton and David Perdue. He also met with a couple of Democratic Senators, Joe Manchin and Doug Jones. They were in that group of Democrats who voted to keep the government open all along.
GREENE: And meanwhile, I just want to ask you about another subject. The White House has introduced some new import tariffs with China being singled out for a big one, which seems significant. What's going on here?
HORSLEY: These are tariffs on washing machines and solar cells that foreign manufacturers have been evading some of the existing tariffs by shifting production around. You know, the Trump administration has been threatening to impose tariffs like this for some time. We'll see if it's the beginning of a trend - still waiting to see what happens with steel and aluminum. On solar cells, there was a divide between the manufacturers and the installers. And in this case, the Trump administration sided with the domestic manufacturers.
GREENE: NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley - Scott, thanks.
HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.