SEVERE WX : Freeze Warning View Alerts

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."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 763915

Reported Deaths: 8581
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1526881914
Ramsey63091977
Dakota56699523
Anoka53591515
Washington33431329
Stearns28298252
St. Louis23444355
Scott21503159
Wright21099171
Olmsted18023118
Sherburne15420114
Carver1353254
Clay1016098
Rice9936131
Blue Earth960759
Crow Wing9396107
Kandiyohi830996
Chisago828062
Otter Tail7941104
Benton7454109
Beltrami645978
Mower642240
Douglas624689
Goodhue614784
Itasca608981
Winona608254
McLeod589270
Steele580825
Isanti565474
Morrison553566
Becker524662
Polk506377
Freeborn485242
Nobles480052
Lyon451456
Carlton443866
Nicollet431351
Pine424630
Cass420742
Mille Lacs411265
Brown405347
Todd397336
Le Sueur381831
Meeker354552
Waseca326130
Martin322834
Wabasha29095
Hubbard286744
Dodge27149
Roseau261026
Fillmore241012
Redwood238643
Wadena234629
Houston230017
Renville226449
Faribault218530
Pennington215027
Sibley207312
Cottonwood195228
Kanabec190230
Chippewa189740
Aitkin181542
Watonwan170311
Pope15888
Yellow Medicine154720
Rock154519
Jackson145614
Koochiching137919
Clearwater135518
Swift134219
Marshall133419
Murray133210
Pipestone132327
Stevens124211
Lake108121
Wilkin101314
Lac qui Parle97524
Mahnomen87712
Norman8579
Big Stone7934
Grant7759
Lincoln7695
Kittson60322
Red Lake5869
Unassigned541124
Traverse5075
Lake of the Woods4614
Cook2460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 467281

Reported Deaths: 6685
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk73698716
Linn28680379
Scott24441271
Black Hawk20130355
Woodbury18854242
Johnson17800100
Dubuque15577228
Pottawattamie14073197
Dallas13894107
Story1275148
Warren763496
Webster6876111
Cerro Gordo6816107
Clinton6814100
Des Moines657893
Marshall635484
Muscatine6294113
Wapello5807136
Jasper571478
Lee560787
Sioux560276
Marion499791
Buena Vista489745
Plymouth459187
Henry378647
Jones365160
Washington362255
Bremer353867
Benton352056
Boone344837
Carroll341753
Crawford337345
Mahaska313656
Dickinson297651
Clay274631
Buchanan274239
Jackson270445
Kossuth269373
Hardin266448
Tama261476
Fayette253848
Delaware253444
Cedar246326
Page244827
Wright240945
Winneshiek230837
Hamilton228553
Floyd216744
Harrison215277
Madison214325
Clayton210058
Poweshiek206840
Iowa204229
Butler203237
Jefferson197340
Mills197227
Allamakee192952
Cherokee191943
Lyon190641
Cass190557
Winnebago185432
Hancock184739
Calhoun184115
Appanoose175950
Shelby174239
Louisa169651
Grundy167937
Emmet163842
Franklin163328
Humboldt161826
Mitchell161843
Union159437
Chickasaw156418
Sac156323
Guthrie154034
Palo Alto140831
Clarke140028
Montgomery138941
Keokuk137534
Monroe131534
Howard125422
Ida116641
Davis113825
Greene113712
Lucas112224
Pocahontas109323
Monona107436
Worth10678
Adair103634
Osceola91117
Fremont83711
Van Buren82721
Decatur81212
Taylor78612
Wayne72024
Ringgold66827
Audubon64514
Adams4984
Unassigned150
Rochester
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 41°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 43°
Austin
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 50°
Charles City
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 38°
Much cooler air arrives to end the week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events