Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) said Monday that Senate Democrats have options other than shutting down the government to use as leverage in negotiations with Republicans, including slowing down the Senate "to a halt."
Schatz discussed how Congress will address immigration policy in the coming weeks on the "Pod Save America" podcast, hosted by former communications aides to President Barack Obama.
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Co-host Jon Favreau asked Schatz what leverage Democrats have to find a solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which provides legal protections to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, before it expires in early March.
"I think we have points of leverage all the way through this process," Schatz said, adding that while he hopes Democrats will win the Senate in November, they still have power right now.
"Remember that the minority party can really slow down the United States Senate and we can use leverage. I mean, almost on any day we can slow the Senate to a halt," Schatz added.
Schatz would not list what points of leverage Democrats have, but said causing a government shutdown is just one of them.
"So causing a government shutdown is not our only point of leverage," he said. "I think that would be unwise to sort of list our various points of leverage."
Earlier in the interview, Schatz said that during the recent three-day shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) worked to get "maximum leverage" to put a Dream Act on the table.
Schatz said that since legislation needs 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, "they're [Republicans] always going to have to come to us for participation."
The Hawaii Democrat said that he thinks shutdowns are unlikely going forward, "which I'm not so sure is a terrible thing."
"We were talking about before we went on the air about sort of having mixed feelings about shutting the government down," Schatz said.
He reasoned that Democrats are the party that likes the government and "it's very difficult for us to use leverage against our constituents for another constituency."
"But, we are not without leverage," Schatz said. "They need 60 votes and we can withhold it for anything at any time."