STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Chuck Schumer's big moment

The high-stakes standoff over government funding has thrust Chuck Schumer into the brightest spotlight of his young t...

Posted: Jan 20, 2018 3:39 PM
Updated: Jan 20, 2018 3:39 PM

The high-stakes standoff over government funding has thrust Chuck Schumer into the brightest spotlight of his young tenure leading Senate Democrats. He faces intense pressure to resolve a thicket of policy issues while defending his party against potential blame if the government shutters.

The political fallout from a shutdown is uncertain. But Democrats -- who are anxious to make a stand on immigration and other long-simmering issues -- recognize if they mishandle the stalemate they could set back their efforts to retake control of Congress in November's midterm elections.

The focus on Schumer as perhaps the most powerful Democrat in Washington became clear Friday when he was the only lawmaker who sat down with President Donald Trump at the White House to try to broker a last-minute deal and avoid a costly shutdown.

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, stayed back at the Capitol so the President could negotiate with Schumer.

He leads the 49 senators who caucus with Democrats, about a dozen of whom would be needed by Republicans to get the 60 votes to pass the spending bill. That's powerful leverage.

But Schumer must guard and balance the wildly different political needs within his caucus. Most immediately, the 10 Democrats up for re-election this fall in states Trump won in 2016. Many of those senators are wary of contributing to a shutdown and think they would pay a price with voters. Schumer is close to that group and protective of them because he led the Democrats' campaign arm when many of them were elected. He knows if he is going to be majority leader in the next Congress, all of them must win.

"This is clearly a case where if the government gets shut down, the Democrats are going to be blamed for it," said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, who said Schumer's handling of the spending crisis may hurt is 2018 candidates. "Going to the brink of a shutdown is exactly the opposite of what you would do for someone in one of the 2018 states."

But Schumer also has a handful of Democrats on the left flank who are angling to challenge Trump for the White House in 2020. Cheered on by grassroots progressives, they are agitating to aggressively take on Trump at every turn and don't want Schumer to cave to Trump or be too cautious as it relates to senators running for re-election this year.

'It's in the hands of the leader'

Schumer must also consider that Trump is unpopular already and if Democrats end of getting blamed by the public for a shutdown it could boost the President and hurt their chances in November.

"I am so glad Chuck Schumer is over there," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Schumer's House counterpart, when the meeting was underway.

In a statement after the meeting Schumer said progress was made but there were still issues to resolve.

"It's in the hands of the leader," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat and lead negotiator on immigration, putting his faith in Schumer. "I don't know if there will be an agreement, but Leader Schumer is working on it."

Biggest test

Schumer, a fourth-term New Yorker with a proud Brooklyn accent, became the Senate Democratic leader a year ago, taking over the top spot when Nevada Sen. Harry Reid retired. As leader, he is the top policymaker, top strategist and top salesman.

"The only thing standing in our way is the unrelenting flow of chaos from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue," Schumer said in a colorful floor speech this week. "The President is like Abbott; Leader McConnell is like Costello."

He's learning each role as he goes and being challenged by the spending stalemate like no other issue before. Even the high-profile Republican effort last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which ultimately failed, was more about internal GOP divides than traditional Democrats versus Republicans politics.

At this stage, Schumer appears to have the trust of most of his caucus. When he raced to the White House Friday, most of his members didn't even know he was going or what he would negotiate. But they said they were OK with that.

"I have extensive, complete confidence that Chuck Schumer is the right person to carry the thoughts and ponderings of our caucus in our fight for jobs, education, health, and a healthy planet," Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, told CNN. "This is a very important negotiation and he's the right man for the job."

Huntsville
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
Florence
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Fayetteville
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Decatur
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
Scottsboro
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 95°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 39604

Reported Deaths: 961
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 46890

Reported Deaths: 620
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby10765195
Davidson10125115
Rutherford273335
Hamilton257730
Sumner150752
Trousdale14905
Williamson114814
Knox10225
Out of TN10098
Wilson85917
Putnam8147
Robertson80111
Sevier7333
Lake6900
Tipton6205
Bledsoe6181
Bradley6043
Bedford5205
Unassigned5161
Montgomery5137
Macon4213
Hardeman3143
Maury3113
Fayette3012
Hamblen2964
Rhea2740
Loudon2711
Madison2642
Dyer2321
Cheatham2201
McMinn21817
Blount2053
Dickson1940
Cumberland1744
Lawrence1435
Lauderdale1362
Monroe1365
Washington1340
Jefferson1210
Coffee1150
Gibson1101
Obion1062
Anderson1052
Hardin1037
Smith1031
Sullivan1012
Greene862
Franklin823
Haywood812
Wayne800
Cocke760
Marshall741
Hickman730
Warren690
Marion674
White653
McNairy640
Weakley621
Grundy581
Lincoln580
Overton581
DeKalb570
Carter561
Giles551
Hawkins552
Unicoi550
Roane500
Henry420
Campbell411
Polk410
Carroll401
Grainger390
Henderson390
Johnson380
Cannon340
Claiborne320
Crockett323
Meigs320
Perry310
Sequatchie290
Chester260
Humphreys261
Jackson260
Morgan241
Decatur210
Stewart210
Fentress190
Clay160
Scott150
Union150
Houston130
Benton121
Moore100
Lewis70
Van Buren70
Pickett60
Hancock30

 

 

Community Events