Senate Democrats in the past have decried the idea of government shutdowns, but they have suggested a willingness this week to vote against a spending bill and potentially force a shutdown if "Dreamers" don't get legal protections.
Friday's funding deadline looms as a rising number of Democrats say they will not support a spending bill that doesn't address the fate of the young recipients of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. The "Dreamers" are young illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children and protected under the Obama-era executive order.
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President Donald Trump rescinded the program in September and gave Congress six months to enshrine their protections legislatively.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) in 2013—when Democrats held the majority in the Senate—said that making immigration demands and threatening a government shutdown was akin to kidnapping.
"Someone goes into your house, takes your wife and children hostage and then says, ‘Let's negotiate over the price of your house,'" he said. "You know, we could do the same thing on immigration. We believe strongly in immigration reform. We could say, ‘we’re shutting down the government, we’re not going to raise the debt ceiling, until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos."
Fast-forward to this week, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Col.) said Sunday that Congress should stop shutting down the government after he was asked by NBC's Chuck Todd if he would be willing to do so to protect the Dreamers.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) this month said "shame on any of us" if Congress were to let the government shut down over politics, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) said Wednesday on "The View" that he didn't run for the Senate to shut the government down, although, he added DACA must be addressed this week.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said Republicans would bear the responsibility since they control both houses of Congress and the White House, saying a shutdown would be a "disaster" for the country.
America Rising released a video of Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and other Democrats decrying the government shutdown in 2013. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) called it a "Tea Party tantrum."