Tim Ryan on Government Shutdown: Dems Went in ‘Without a Real Plan’

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) on Thursday castigated congressional Democrats for how they handled the recent government shutdown, saying on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that they did not have a "real strategy."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) announced Monday that he reached a deal with Republican leadership to reopen the government after it was shut down for three days. The shutdown was triggered last Friday night after all but five Senate Democrats voted against a short-term government-funding bill, because it did not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which provides legal protections to Dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Following Schumer's announcement, liberal activists and organizations affiliated with the progressive movement expressed their outrage over the negotiations, saying that Schumer and Democratic leadership "caved" to President Donald Trump and Republicans.

"Do you think that your party has hurt itself in terms of a negotiation standpoint, in doing that and then reopening the government three days later?" MSNBC guest Sam Stein asked. "Perhaps your bluff was called or do you go into Feb. 8 able to do something like that again and willing to do something like that again in order to get this big immigration deal that Trump now appears to be at least inclined to consider."

"I think it definitely hurt us. There's no question about it," Ryan said. "I think we went in as a party without a real plan, without a real strategy on how we were going to get out or what the end game was, so we lost before it started in the sense that we weren't prepared, in my estimation, to figure out what exactly it is we wanted."

"What did our senators, who were on the front lines who had to run for reelection, what were they looking for?" Ryan asked. "What could they handle? At the end of the day, I think it did damage our ability to try to get it done, and I don't think we built a big enough coalition."

Ryan argued that Democrats did not build a large enough coalition before the government shutdown and that they put too much emphasis on DACA recipients. He also mentioned how former President Bill Clinton used three different talking points when the government shutdowns occurred during his administration in 1995 and 1996.

"They're going to cut Medicare, they're going to cut Medicaid, and they're going to gut the environment," Ryan said, referring to Clinton's talking points. "That was a consistent message that played across the country. We were talking about just the Dreamers."

Ryan added that the Democratic Party should have supported multiple groups in negotiations before the shutdown, not just Dreamers.

"The coal miners who are losing their pension, they should have been part of the negotiations. The opiate issue where we need funding," Ryan said. "We should have been standing on a stage with the Dreamers, with the teamsters, with the coal miners, and with people who need addiction treatment and recovery."