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House GOP looks to put Dems on their heels on immigration
After months of fine-tuning to lock down the votes, House Republicans plan to pass a border security messaging bill the same day Title 42 expires.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
As Congress returns to Washington this week with less than a month to reach a consensus on how to raise the debt limit, House Republicans plan to pass a broad border security package on the same day a pandemic-era provision that blocked US entry for most migrants expires.
“With Title 42 ending on May 11 and a surge of illegal immigration already occurring, we cannot afford to be blind to the truth, as the Biden administration has been for over two years,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a joint statement with his top three deputies. “Our border is not secure and we must act.”
And while House GOP leadership is confident they’ve locked up the votes to pass it, House Democrats still plan to reject the legislation tooth and nail.
“The amount of anti-immigrant trash we’re seeing from over there, we’re going to fight it to the end,” Democratic Rep. Greg Casar of Texas said to Supercreator.
Nanette Barragán, a California congresswoman and chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told Supercreator that the package represents more of the same politicization of the border without substantive solutions.
“It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a real effort to come together,” she added. “So, you know, we’ll just continue to oppose it.”
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries declined to comment on if he expects any House Democrats to support the legislation or how the border may impact his members electorally next year and dismissed the bill as a partisan red-meat proposal designed to activate the GOP base.
“That’s just another dead-on-arrival bill catering to the far-right extreme of the Republican Party,” he told reporters late last month.
Among the chief provisions, the legislation would make the Biden administration restart construction of the border wall that former President Donald Trump made the cornerstone of his agenda, which the Center for American Progress in 2019 described as “expensive, ineffective, and bad for the environment.”
The bill would also require “transparency” from the Department of Homeland Security regarding unauthorized border crossings and restrain the use of executive authority to advance immigration policy.
Additionally, the legislation would end the practice of releasing migrants into the community while they wait for their immigration court hearings and instead hold them in immigrant detention and strengthen current laws to prevent children from human trafficking.
The bill is expected to stall in the Senate.
Delayed but not denied • House Republicans had planned to pass two border security measures during the first two weeks of the new Congress in January but stumbled out the gate due to conflicts within the conference that couldn’t be ignored since McCarthy is working with just a four-vote margin.
The package ended up going through “regular order,” a deliberative process that requires hearings and markups within the committees of jurisdiction and before a final vote.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, an architect of the legislation’s linchpin bills, dismissed the delay as much ado about nothing.
“We thought we’d be able to sort of move it quickly but there was a desire by the conference to go through regular order, so we just agreed,” he said to Supercreator in March. “I’m a pro-regular-order guy. You just put a few things in the initial rules just to give yourself some options in that first month before you get committees going so that’s what [leadership] did.”
Veronica Escobar, another member from Texas who represents a border district in El Paso, told Supercreator a week later that the GOP’s singular focus on border security is an intentional tactic by the anti-immigration movement to flatten the nuance out of the debate.
“They can’t have it both ways. They can’t vote against border security funding and then say, at the same time, we’re not going to even consider immigration legislyuntio the border is secure,” she said. “This tells me how unserious the majority of them are. There are Republicans, however, who do want to see us address the challenges that we’re facing at the border and open up legal pathways. It has to be both together, not one or the other.”
WH pushes back • Speaker McCarthy has blamed President Biden for the crisis at the southern border but White House officials argue that comprehensive immigration reform has eluded his most recent predecessors and the president is simply playing the bad hand he’s been dealt.
The administration said it received half of the almost $5 billion it requested for border security and management. And despite a request for more border patrol agents, the bill House Republicans passed last month to lift the debt ceiling and cut federal domestic investments would fire 2,000 agents. The White House has also called out Republican elected officials for using the courts to block measures that significantly brought unlawful immigration down.
“After spending four years helping former President Trump gut our immigration system and the last two years blocking reforms and funds to fix it, Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans are taking an even more extreme turn to undermine border security,” a senior administration official said. “They voted to take 2,000 Border Patrol agents off the federal payroll. They opposed increased funding for border security. And their colleagues in the states are in court trying to block measures that are actually bringing unlawful immigration down.”
Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona sees it differently though. And she, along with Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, last week introduced a bill that would authorize the Biden administration to continue for two years to expel migrants who attempt to enter the country without inspection or proper documentation of their country of last transit or country of origin. It’s a necessary stopgap due to the administration's unpreparedness, the lawmakers say.
“What we need is our system fixed, not this band-aid solution,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on CBS on Sunday.
Tragedy in Brownsville • This debate will take place against a violent backdrop as eight people were killed and at least 10 others were injured on Sunday after an SUV slammed into a crowd of people waiting for a bus outside a migrant shelter in the border city of Brownsville, Texas.
At press time, police had not confirmed whether the collision was intentional and said law enforcement is looking into reports from witnesses that the unidentified driver expressed anti-immigration remarks.
“It could be intoxication, it could be an accident, or it could be intentional,” Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval said Sunday afternoon. “In order for us to find out exactly what happened, we have to eliminate the other two.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Monday, May 8, 2023.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING: At least eight people were killed and seven were injured on Saturday in Allen, Texas a Dallas suburb 40 minutes from my hometown at an outlet mall I shopped as a kid.
The shooter was 33 years old and reportedly worked as a security guard. And although he had no serious criminal record, law enforcement said he was a suspected neo-Nazi sympathizer and was wearing a patch on his chest with a popular acronym among white supremacists at the time of the shooting. The gun he used was an AR-15.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris renewed their call for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban. Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota called on Speaker McCarthy and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to also bring legislation to the floor that would require universal background checks for gun purchases and strengthen red flag laws.
“If you support public safety, act!” Craig wrote in a tweet. “We have the right to be safe from violence in our communities.”
The president also ordered the flags at the White House and across the government to be raised half-mast until Thursday evening.
See also: “‘It was nonstop’: Survivors describe horror of Texas mall shooting that killed 8 people” (Ed Lavandera, Elizabeth Wolfe, Sharif Paget and Holly Yan / CNN)
GOP UNITY: 43 of 49 Senate Republicans said in a letter to Leader Schumer over the weekend that they would vote against raising the debt ceiling without spending cuts, which would prevent him from scheduling a floor vote to do so.
The letter is a show of solidarity for Speaker McCarthy ahead of his meeting with President Biden and the other top three congressional leaders tomorrow.
“House and Senate Republicans agree: Raising the debt limit without getting spending under control would be irresponsible,” Speaker McCarthy said in response to the letter.
Meanwhile, congressional Democrats head into the meeting united as well: “We are in lockstep with President Biden,” Leader Jeffries said Sunday morning on NBC. “We’re in lockstep with Senate Democrats. We want to do the right thing for the American people.”
WE DON’T ALL LOOK THE SAME: In a fundraising message to supporters of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas attacking his challenger Democratic Rep. Colin Allred for his voting record, an image of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was superimposed on a photo of Cruz.
“Hi 🙋🏽♂️, that’s not me,” Allred quote-tweeted in response.
A spokesperson for Cruz denied his staff was involved in the snafu: “The image was mistakenly sent by a vendor, and was not approved by Senator Cruz or his campaign.”
Bragg has become a right-wing target after he indicted former President Trump last month so critics of Cruz are skeptical it was a mistake.
GRADUATION SEASON: President Biden this Saturday will deliver the commencement address at Howard University, Vice President Harris’s alma mater.
Biden has secured funding for more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and delivered nearly $6 billion in HBCU investments through the Department of Education during the first two years of his term, according to the White House.
Howard also announced Biden will be presented with an honorary doctorate degree.
In addition to Biden’s speech at Howard, cabinet officials will travel to HBCU commencements across the country to speak as well:
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge at Florida A&M University
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at Alcorn State University
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at Fayetteville State University
Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young at Xavier University of Louisiana
Related: The White House also announced President Biden will give the commencement address at the US Air Force Academy on June 1.
ICYMI: LOWEST EVER BLACK UNEMPLOYMENT: Black unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent in April — the first time it was below five percent in US history, according to the latest jobs report released this past Friday.
Overall, the US unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the lowest in 50 years as the economy created 253,000 jobs — well above the 180,000 analysts predicted and proof of its resilience against fears of a recession due to higher interest rates as the Federal Reserve works to tamp inflation.
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President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing before speaking about the Transportation Department’s new proposed protections against flight delays and cancellations. This evening he will host a screening of American Born Chinese in celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will meet with Speaker McCarthy and Leaders Jeffries, Schumer, and McConnell on the debt ceiling.
Wednesday: Biden will travel to Hudson Valley, New York to speak about the debt ceiling and to New York City to participate in two campaign fundraisers.
Friday: The president will host President Pedro Sanchez of Spain at the White House.
Saturday: Biden will give a commencement speech at Howard University before traveling to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for the weekend.
Vice President Harris is in DC and has no events on her public schedule.
The House and Senate are out.
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