There are two big piece of news today on the border crisis. The first is that Rick Perry is calling in the National Guard. The second is that Senate Dems are preparing to move forward with a measure to give Obama the $3.7 billion in funding he’s requested for the crisis — and Senate Republicans will likely say No.
Taken together, the two developments neatly illustrate the larger game Republicans are playing here.
Perry has ordered in the National Guard to boost local and state law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking and boost border security, because he claims criminal organizations are benefiting from resources being diverted to deal with arriving young migrants. This will cost an estimated $12 million per month, and Perry plans to send the bill to the federal government. Meanwhile, John Boehner wants the Guard to provide humanitarian relief.
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At the same time, Senate Dems are close to moving forward with their own measure to provide the $3.7 billion. That request would provide more resources to deal with arriving migrants — precisely what Perry says is siphoning resources away from security. Yet Republican Senators are likely to say No:
“I’m not saying no money is needed now, because we want to treat children and be helpful and humanitarian, treat them in a humanitarian and a compassionate way. “But we don’t need $4 billion. That’s clear,” Sessions continued. He demanded that any supplemental funding request sent to Obama include a requirement that funding be blocked for federal initiatives that grants undocumented immigrants work permits — such as to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
No money to address the crisis, unless Obama’s deferred-deportation program is defunded. So here’s where we are: It’s unclear whether Republicans will support any federal response to the crisis that doesn’t either send in the National Guard or call for more deportations of people with lives here. Yes, House Republicans are working on various border responses of their own. But even John Boehner isn’t sure something will pass before August recess. And some conservatives (such as Sessions and Ted Cruz) insist the measure must block deferred-deportation programs, while others say Republicans should do nothing at all, because this is #Obummer’s Mess and he should clean it up himself.
To be clear, there may be a legitimate role for the Guard to play, as the head of the Guard under George W. Bush has told me, though as he says, Republicans have not convincingly specified what it should be. And Obama may agree to some Guard role to win GOP support for a funding package. What’s more, there’s no denying serious divisions remain among Dems over how to respond to the debacle or that Obama still must show he can manage it effectively.
But the true dimensions of the Republican response to this major crisis deserve explication. Their main policy responses to it are designed to serve a clear political goal: Hyping the degree to which this is a border security issue rooted in a vague sense of Obama permissiveness and weakness on immigration, rather than a legal and international problem rooted in myriad causes such as violence in Central America and unintended consequences related to the bipartisan 2008 trafficking law. That overall political goal — using this crisis to feed exaggerated notions of border insecurity and conflate that with attacks on Obama over interior policy — is what unifies the call for sending in the Guard with the insistence that Obama’s deferred-deportation programs are the problem.
In fairness, many Republicans are pushing for a change in the 2008 law, and agree or not, they appear to be grappling with the crisis. But they may not be able to pass anything. And amusingly enough, by fingering that law as the problem, they are undercutting other GOP arguments that the problem is #Obummer Weakness — and revealing the real game at the core of those arguments.
* WHY RICK PERRY IS CALLING IN NATIONAL GUARD: Manny Fernandez and Michael Shear say it’s about a 2016 presidential run:
By seeking more military resources at the border, Mr. Perry may also be trying to repair his standing among some conservatives who had expressed doubts about his willingness to be tough on immigration. During a Republican presidential debate in 2012, the Texas governor defended in-state tuition for immigrants in the country illegally and said of those who disagreed: “I don’t think you have a heart.” That comment earned Mr. Perry scorn among some Republican primary voters.
Well, no doubt further militarizing the border will get him right with them.
* IS FLOW OF YOUNG MIGRANTS SLOWING? From the Post’s overview of the situation:
Administration officials on Monday said the number of children apprehended on the border has fallen from a high of 355 per day last month to about 150 per day. On Friday, Obama will host the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to emphasize joint efforts to stem the flow.
Still a long way to go. But in political terms the question is whether Obama can be seen managing the crisis effectively by this fall, and whether this will give him more space to act unilaterally on deportations if Republicans punt on the crisis.
* GRIMES KEEPS WHACKING McCONNELL OVER JOBS COMMENT: Alison Lundergan Grimes is up with a new ad hitting McConnell over his suggestion — which McConnell claims was taken out of context — that it is not his job as a Senator to create jobs. Grimes says: “That will be my number one job.”
The ad is a reminder of the Grimes camp’s determination to keep the race relentlessly focused on the Kentucky economy and McConnell’s failure to deliver for the state despite his longtime tenure in the Senate.
* DEMS CRANK UP ATTACKS IN IOWA SENATE RACE: The DSCC is up with a new ad hitting GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst for wanting to privatize Social Security, concluding: “Her ideas are just too extreme for Iowa.”
The polling average shows the race with Dem Rep. Bruce Braley tied, and it is clear this is a true toss-up. But Dems believe voters have not been sufficiently informed as to Ernst’s range of extreme positions, and you’ll see a fairly aggressive effort to address that beginning right about now.
* GEORGIA SENATE PRIMARY SET FOR TODAY: Voters go to the polls in Georgia today to choose their nominee to face Democrat Michelle Nunn, and it’s shaping up as a nasty, divisive affair, which has Democrats cautiously optimistic about putting the GOP-held seat in play.
Nunn holds small leads over GOP Rep. Jack Kingston, and over businessman David Purdue. But now Republicans are divided, so we’ll have to wait to see what happens after the primary to get a sense of the real state of the race.
* REPUBLICANS WORRIED ABOUT GEORGIA RACE? Cameron Joseph reports:
“This race has definitely tightened up. This is going to be a close race one way or the other,” said Joel McElhannon, another neutral Georgia Republican strategist.
Nunn has brought in $3.5 million over the last three months, more than Kingston and Perdue combined…it’s clear she’ll have the early cash advantage. “When she turns in fundraising numbers like she did, obviously that’s concerning and frustrating,” one Georgia Republican said.
If somehow Dems can flip either Kentucky or Georgia — as difficult as it seems — it would make the GOP road to a majority very steep indeed.
* ANOTHER OBAMACARE DISASTER FAILING TO MATERIALIZE: Sam Baker brings the terrible news:
Nearly 20 states have released preliminary information about premiums for insurance policies sold on their insurance exchanges, and the nightmare scenarios have not come to pass. In most of those states, the average increase across all exchange plans is in the single digits.
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis of 18 states’ initial filings, 10 states will see average premium increases of less than 10 percent—nominal hikes in line with the standard increases that have happened every year with or without Obamacare.