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House GOP keeps its border bill on track
Meanwhile, House Dems introduce their own version of comprehensive immigration reform. Plus: What the top Senate Agriculture Dem expects from the White House farm bill meeting.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
For an idea of how confident House Republicans are feeling heading into this afternoon’s vote on their sweeping border security bill, consider the fact that leadership canceled Friday’s session since they notched the votes to be able to pass it today.
The situation felt touch-and-go most of Wednesday though. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his top deputies worked behind closed doors to tweak what’s known as a rule, which sets the terms and conditions of the floor debate and has to be approved before final consideration of bills like this one.
The conference finally reached a resolution nearly four hours after the rule vote was originally scheduled that put the House GOP on a glide path to their latest legislative achievement.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries told Supercreator he was unsurprised that House Republicans had to push back the rule vote, which, to be clear, is a reality that befalls many slim majorities regardless of which party controls the chamber.
“The Republicans are extreme on every issue imaginable including, as it relates to their so-called border bill,” Jeffries said. He added that the legislation is a “bill to waste billions of dollars to build a medieval border wall, as well as not do anything enlightened to solve our immigration challenges.”
→ The House Dems’ alternative: Prior to my chat with Jeffries, the top House Democrat joined Democratic Rep. Linda Sánchez, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, and a coalition of leaders from across the caucus to oppose the House GOP’s bill, formally known as H.R. 2, and offer an alternative: “The US Citizenship Act.”
Sánchez told reporters that while the US immigration system is broken, the solution is nowhere to be found in H.R. 2.
She said it's because it reinstates some of former President Donald Trump’s most harmful anti-immigration policies that focus too much on enforcement and not enough on expanding pathways to citizenship.
“The US Citizenship Act doesn't neglect the people behind the immigration policy. Instead, this legislation is built on the fundamental truth that we can have safe, secure borders and policies that reflect the values as a nation of immigrants,” Sánchez said. “This is what the American people want, it is what our border communities need, and it is what every human being seeking a better life in this country deserves.
The unpleasant truth is neither the USCA nor H.R. 2 will ultimately be signed into law anytime soon, if ever. The Democratic-controlled Senate won't give the House bill the time of day and there doesn’t seem to be much interest from House Republicans in finding bipartisan areas of compromise right now.
→ The final hours of Title 42: This debate is occurring as Title 42, the pandemic-era public health policy that blocked US entry for most migrants, is hours from expiring.
President Joe Biden told reporters his administration needs additional resources to fully fund the border security effort to make legal immigration more streamlined.
Biden also said that he is considering sending more troops to the border on top of the 1,500 the Defense Department already authorized to support border patrol agents.
Aguilar, the number-three House Democrat, told Supercreator that the caucus is monitoring the developments at the border and looking at the current conditions.
“We’re very mindful of the resources that they need and making sure that we treat people with decency and that it’s done in an orderly way,” he added.
FARM BILL TALKS RAMP UP • The top members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees today will meet at the White House to discuss the upcoming farm bill, which governs US agriculture and food policy plus the annual appropriations bills that fund the government.
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, told Supercreator on Wednesday that her members were interested in hearing the president's priorities and that Biden is interested in hearing the committee’s.
“I think the most important thing is to demonstrate we are working together in a bipartisan way. The President is very supportive,” she said. “This is not just the farm economy. It’s the largest investment in land and water conservation that our country makes every year, as well as nutrition programs as well as bioenergy and trade and so on.”
Meredith Lee Hill at Politico was the first to report the news of the meeting.
House Republicans have proposed spending cuts that could kick up to a million folks off SNAP benefits and harsher work requirements for non-exempt people.
Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas said she would fight back against the work requirements as a matter of principle and politics, considering Republican Rep. George Santos of New York was indicted this week for allegedly drawing unemployment benefits for a year during the pandemic despite holding a six-figure job at an investment firm.
“As we saw just recently, I think today it was released, that the inflation numbers were down, but obviously, the place that we feel it first is when it comes to food,” Crockett told Supercreator. “This isn’t just about the poor people. This is about our farmers, this is about our ranchers, this is about our producers, because if there’s no one getting those goods, then guess what? That means that they’re going to have a more difficult time surviving.”
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→ Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Wednesday returned to the Senate yesterday and voted for the first time in nearly three months as she recovered from shingles and faced calls for her resignation. In a statement, the 89-year-old revealed she is still experiencing side effects — including vision and balance impairments, according to her office — so she will work a lighter schedule for now.
See also: “Dianne Feinstein returns to Senate after nearly three-month absence” by Jennifer Bendery at HuffPost … “Magic mushrooms, Dear White Staffers and Dianne Feinstein’s dog” by Ben Terris at Politico … “Dianne Feinstein Is Giving a Master Class in How to Ruin a Legacy” by Philip Elliott at Time … “Did Dianne Feinstein’s prolonged absence tarnish her legacy?” Erin B. Logan at LAT
→ Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Wednesday announced he would oppose all Environmental Protection Agency nominees in response to an EPA regulation he says will squeeze coal and gas-fueled power plants out of existence. “The president stands by his well-qualified nominees to do the important work of the EPA, which includes protecting our kids from dangerous pollution and contaminated water,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters when asked for comment.
See also: “In a climate trade-off, Biden backs Manchin’s fossil fuel plan” by Lisa Friedman at NYT … “Joe Manchin blasts Mitch McConnell's push to go ‘all out’ to defeat him next year: ‘This is what's wrong with this place’” by John L. Dorman at Insider … “Republicans want Manchin to bow out, fearful that he may have one more trick up his sleeve” by Holly Otterbein and Ally Mutnick at Politico
→ Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York and Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas introduced a resolution calling for the release of Evan Gershkovich, the 31-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter who has been wrongfully detained in Russia since March. “Russia has no grounds to hold Evan Gershkovich prisoner, he’s an innocent American journalist,” the top two lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement. “We are proud to introduce this resolution calling on the Russian government to release Evan and other wrongfully detained Americans immediately and return them to their families.”
See also: “Evan Gershkovich loved Russia, the country that turned on him” by Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw
→ A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to help first responders and teachers become homeowners. The Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder (HELPER) Act would eliminate the upfront home purchase costs and monthly mortgage insurance premiums for teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians. Read the full bill text.
→ The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday passed the Railway Safety Act, which would in the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment in February. “Today, we are one step closer to making railroads safer,” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. “We built a broad, bipartisan coalition that agree on these commonsense safety measures that will finally hold big railroad companies like Norfolk Southern accountable.” The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
“Today, we are one step closer to making railroads safer. We built a broad, bipartisan coalition that agree on these commonsense safety measures that will finally hold big railroad companies like Norfolk Southern accountable. I’ll continue working with members of both parties to get this done and make sure disastrous derailments like the one in East Palestine never happen again,” said Brown.
→ Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent the heads of data broker companies a letter requesting information to help the committee understand how they purchase, collect, use, license, and sell Americans’ data. “Enacting a comprehensive federal privacy law is a top priority for the Committee on Energy and Commerce,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Currently, Americans do not have control over whether and where their personal data is sold and shared; they have no guaranteed way to access, delete, or correct their data; and, they have no ability to stop the unchecked collection of their sensitive personal information.” Read one of the letters.
See also: “Experts say Congress should do more to keep data brokers from exposing Americans’ private information” by Tonya Riley at Cyberscoop … “How data brokers get your personal information” by Justin Sherman at Slate … “Data brokers are now selling your mental health status” by Drew Harwell at WaPo
→ ICYMI: Consumer prices rose 4.9 percent in April compared to a year ago in the latest sign that inflation continues to moderate. It’s the 10th straight month overall costs went down, although the price of rent, used cars and trucks, and gas remain relatively high. Read the full report and the White House statement from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
See also: “Is high inflation the new normal?” by Matthew C. Klein at Vox
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President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President Kamala Harris. This afternoon, he will speak about his administration’s actions on conservation.
The House is in this morning and will complete consideration of the Republican’s sweeping border security bill and legislation to provide incentives for States to recover fraudulently paid federal and state unemployment compensation.
The Senate is in this morning and will vote on resolutions to overturn the Biden administration’s critical habitat rule designed to support the continued conservation of imperiled species by guiding cooperation within the federal government and reverse the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to classify the long-eared bat as endangered. Senators this afternoon will also vote to advance the nomination of Bradley N. Garcia to be US Circuit Judge for the DC Circuit.
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