The Edge: The Moderator of the House

National Journal Staff

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The Moderator of the House

Speaker John Boehner refused again on Sunday to say whether he would bring an immigration bill to the House floor that includes a pathway to citizenship.

"I'm not going to predict what's going to be on the floor and what isn't going to be on the floor," Boehner told CBS's Bob Schieffer. "My job in this process is to facilitate a discussion."

When I asked Boehner today if he plans on bringing this "hands-off approach" to the fall's fiscal showdowns, he began to interrupt the question.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop. Let's get back to the premise of the question. Nobody spent more time trying to fix a broken immigration system than I have," Boehner said. "I talked about it the day after the election, and I've talked about it a hundred times since. And while some may disagree about how we're going about fixing the broken immigration system, it's been a big goal of mine."

That's a bit of a stretch. If the Senate Gang of Eight didn't spend more time trying to fix the immigration system, they definitely had more success. Boehner has not released an immigration plan, instead making way for "the House to work its will."

It seems the speaker of House is quickly becoming its moderator.

Chris Frates


WITH SPEECHES, OBAMA AIMS TO DRIVE ECONOMIC NARRATIVE. With his speech-fueled campaign across the country--beginning Wednesday with an address at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.—President Obama hopes to refocus public attention on the economy at a time when the job market continues to steadily improve alongside rising consumer confidence, The New York Times reports. The speeches will not contain new proposals, officials said, and are not meant to break the gridlock with Republicans in Washington but to rally public support behind the president's vision. Obama has also adopted a new catchphrase, "middle out"--growing the middle class to strengthen the overall economy--to describe his plan for economic vitality, a deliberate refutation of the "top down" approach many conservatives favor. Read more

  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is already attacking Obama's scheduled speeches as a "big set-up" to push for higher taxes, The Hill reports. Read more

HUNDREDS, INCLUDING SENIOR QAIDA MILITANTS, ESCAPE ABU GHRAIB PRISON. Suicide bombers blasted into the high-security Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad on Sunday night during a deadly raid that freed hundreds of prisoners, including senior members of al-Qaida, Reuters reports. "The number of escaped inmates has reached 500," said Hakim Al-Zamili, a senior member of the security and defense committee in the Iraqi parliament. He added, "Most of them were convicted senior members of al-Qaida and had received death sentences." Ten policemen and four militants died in the raid, which lasted until Monday morning. A Qaida group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is claiming responsibility for that attack as well as a simultaneous attack on another jail in Taji. Guards there prevented any inmates from escaping. Read more

  • Monday's attacks, which follow the deaths of 250 Iraqis during 10 days of violence, are stoking fears that Iraq could be on the brink of another civil war--or already there, NBC's Richard Engel reports. Read more

HOUSE DEMS: IMMIGRATION REFORM UNLIKELY IN 2014. House Democratic leaders warned Tuesday that if immigration reform fails to pass this year it is very unlikely to happen in 2014, The Hill reports. "We've seen how in an election year it's very difficult to get a lot done," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. Prospects remain dim, however, for House passage of sweeping immigration reform this session--even though most Americans support the Senate bill's two main provisions focusing on increased border security and a path to citizenship. Meanwhile, the White House condemned a House GOP plan to grant legal status to unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children without allowing their parents the same deal. Read more

  • Despite what naysayers might think, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has not killed his chances to earn the GOP's presidential nomination in 2016 by pushing immigration reform, The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf writes. Read more

MICHELLE NUNN TO ENTER GEORGIA SENATE RACE. Michelle Nunn, a Democrat, is expected to officially announce her Senate bid in Georgia today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "Everybody has an individual role and a responsibility to contribute where they can. This seems like a way for me to contribute," Nunn said. Nunn enters as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination after Rep. John Barrow said earlier this year that he would seek reelection for his House seat. Physician Branko Radulovacki is already seeking the Democratic nomination, with former state Sen. Steen Miles also eyeing the race. Nunn is the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga. Read more

  • Michelle Nunn's decision to run for the Senate is already getting a lot of attention, but just who is she? The Washington Post lists five things to know about the new candidate. Read more

U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET FRIDAY WITH SYRIAN REBELS. Members of the U.N. Security Council are planning to meet with a delegation from the Syrian National Coalition on Friday, but top rebel commander Gen. Salim Idris will not attend and will instead remain in Syria, Reuters reports. The meeting is intended to spearhead discussions of ongoing violence and "the issues of humanitarian access, human rights, refugees and protection of civilians" in Syria, said British Ambassador to the U.N. Mark Lyall Grant. Officials said Monday that the Obama administration will move forward with a plan to arm Syrian rebels and the Pentagon offered potential military options to help stop the bloody civil war. Read more

  • The conflict in Syria is "increasingly turning into a regional, if not a global, battleground," said Robert Serry, the U.N.'s top Mideast envoy, on Tuesday. Read more

HOUSE GOP BUDGET PLANS, ONCE HOPEFUL, FALLING APART. The Republican budget strategy in the House is steadily losing momentum, Politico reports. Championed by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the plan to clear deficits in 10 years and maintain defense spending while accepting lower appropriations caps caused by sequestration looks to have lost steam. Only three of 12 annual spending bills have made it to debate, the worst record since Republicans took control of the House, and only nine legislative days remain on the House calendar following the August recess before another shutdown crisis takes hold on Oct. 1. Read more

OBAMACARE LOSING GROUND WITH MODERATE DEMS. Support for the Affordable Care Act has dropped among moderate and conservative Democrats from 74 percent to 46 percent since the law was passed in 2010, The Washington Post reports. A recent Post/ABC News shows that overall support for the law is down to just 58 percent among Democrats. However, the waning support among moderate and conservative Democrats is not likely to result in a repeal of the law. Thus far, the Senate has refused to acknowledge House attempts to repeal the law, and President Obama would veto any attempt to repeal. Obama dropped in on a White House meeting on Monday to personally appeal to Hollywood celebrities who have expressed interest in helping to educate young people about the ACA. Read more

  • New threats from the GOP to block implementation of the ACA could portend a looming government shutdown, Roll Call's David Hawkings writes. Read more

HOUSE MEASURE TO CUT NSA FUNDING DERIDED BY SENATE INTEL LEADERS. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a joint statement with ranking member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today calling a House amendment that seeks to reduce funding for National Security Agency surveillance programs "unwise," The Hill reports. The leaders maintained that the NSA's phone-records program has disrupted numerous terrorist threats, and that efforts are being made to modify the program to add extra privacy protections without harming the effectiveness of the program. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also spoke today about the necessity of reforming surveillance laws. The developments today caused NSA Gen. Keith Alexander to call a last-minute, members-only briefing with members of Congress. Read more

OBAMA HONORS MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS. President Obama hosted the 2013 NCAA men's basketball champion University of Louisville Cardinals in the East Room of the White House. At an event attended by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a Louisville alumnus, as well as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Obama ribbed the team for having busted his March Madness bracket. "This year I was close," the president said, according to a pool report. "I had the Cardinals in the final game, but I guess I discounted the motivational power of making your 60-year-old coach go out and get a tattoo."


PRESIDENT LAUNCHES ECONOMIC TOUR. President Obama will deliver speeches on the economy at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. According to the White House, the president will discuss "the progress we've made together, the challenges that remain, and the path forward."

BIDEN CONTINUES INDIA TRIP IN MUMBAI. Vice President Biden will deliver remarks on the U.S.-India partnership at the Bombay Stock Exchange, and later will meet with Indian business, trade and investment leaders at the Taj Palace Hotel. Finally, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will meet with U.S. Consulate staff and families.


"He tried to make love to the tea party, and they didn't like it." -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., facing a potential primary challenge (The Washington Post)


IF YOU CAN'T WRITE IT, BORROW IT? Harper Lee--the notoriously private author of To Kill a Mockingbird--is embroiled in a legal battle with her former agent Samuel Pinkus, Vanity Fair's Mark Seal reports. The lawsuit alleges that Pinkus devised a "scheme to dupe" Lee, tricking her into assigning him the copyright to the 1960 novel--which still sells 750,000 copies a year--and then diverted royalties to a group of shell companies and bank accounts. Pinkus began working for his father-in-law Eugene Winick's literary agency, McIntosh & Otis, before founding his own Veritas Media, taking Lee and other clients with him. (Pinkus was eventually ordered by the New York Supreme Court to pay M&O almost $780,000 awarded in arbitration.) Pinkus signed the copyrights to Lee's book back to her earlier this year. Read more


FEW U.S.-BORN HISPANICS CONSUME NEWS IN SPANISH ALONE. Nearly one in three foreign-born Hispanics consume only Spanish-language news, but their kids—and their kids' kids—drop the habit pretty quickly, National Journal's Niraj Chokshi writes. Only 11 percent of the foreign-born rely on news only in English, with 59 percent getting their news in both languages and 31 percent getting it just in Spanish, according to a new Pew survey of how Hispanics consume news. That quickly shifts, however, for Hispanics who are born in the U.S. Among those groups, just 2 percent get their news in Spanish alone, although some still get news in both languages. By the third generation, nearly three-quarters of Hispanics get their news in English only. Read more


TIME TO CALL IT QUITS. Reid Cherlin, a former assistant press secretary in the Obama administration, writes in The New Republic that the daily White House press briefing has lost its value and ought to be abolished. "The daily briefing has become a worthless chore for reporters, an embarrassing nuisance to administration staff, and a source of added friction between the two camps," Cherlin writes. "It's time to do the humane, obvious thing and get rid of it altogether." Read more


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