By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- LET’S MAKE A DEAL: This morning the bi-partisan “Gang of Eight” senators will announce an agreement to strengthen the border security provisions of their bill, ABC’s JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL report. The senators hope the agreement will deliver the 70 crucial votes needed for the measure, but whether they can cross that threshold remains to be seen. According to a high ranking Senate aide, a formal announcement is expected this morning. A second Capitol Hill source tells ABC News the agreement will include a major border build up, with a huge increase in border personnel and an increase in fencing. The bill, which has been debated on the Senate floor this week, has been met with resistance from Republicans who argued the border security measures were not strong enough and needed to be made a “trigger” before the undocumented could start down a pathway to citizenship. http://abcn.ws/11NrKW2
- THE DETAILS: ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports that the “border surge” deal to be announced on the immigration bill will call for doubling the size of the border patrol from its current force of 21,000 officers, two senior Senate aides say. The agreement also calls for completing the 700-mile fence along the border. The amendment to the Senate legislation, which one top aide said would “significantly and substantially” secure the border, will be unveiled today.
- TIMING: As of now, the immigration amendment will be offered on the Senate floor around 11 a.m. ET — and possibly sooner. And there are no plans for a press conference this morning, according to a Senate aide.
- RUBIO SPEAKS: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Gang of Eight, weighed in on border security in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night: “The reason why border security is so important is not because we’re trying to be mean or harsh toward anyone. It’s because as a sovereign country, we have an obligation and a right to protect our borders and who has access to our country. America is a special country. We understand why people want to come here. And we feel sympathetic to people that because of desperation in their home countries they come here, risk their lives and what have you. But we can’t have that happen because if you lose that, you lose your sovereignty. And that’s why it’s so critical that the border elements in this bill be right in order for it to have the support it deserves.”
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Immigration reform is moving in two parallel worlds, each with its own realities and exigencies. In the Senate, a breakthrough on border security provisions appears likely to add Republican support to the Gang of 8 measure, with 70 votes now in sight. In the House, meanwhile, conservatives are striking back. Rep. Steve King’s coalition of opponents is growing, while rank-and-file Republicans forced House Speaker John Boehner to pledge to bring up a bill that a majority of Republicans support. So who wins out? It may depend on the timeframe. So far, opposition to the bill has firmed up the longer the immigration debate plays out. If this stretches beyond the August recess, we could see a mass of opposition that no Senate gangs can overcome.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: Is momentum building on immigration? Or are Senate supporters trying to build it? The answer to both questions may be yes, but this is the phase of the legislative fight that backers of the bill are trying to show movement in an effort to recruit as much support as possible as a sign of strength. An amendment today on border security is critical to gaining additional GOP support, but will they have trouble on their left-flank if the debate becomes dominated by talk of beefing up border patrols and building more fences?
ABC’s Z. BYRON WOLF: Not to state the obvious, but yesterday Barack Obama was on the east side of the Brandenburg gate in the shadow of what used to be the Berlin Wall. He talked about how in the years since that wall came down Western democracies have become complacent where it comes to freedom and justice and he warned against turning inward. He talked about the walls democracy tore down and the walls that remain in people’s hearts. So, isn’t it ironic that today the U.S. Senate could vote to add 700 miles of border fence and double the size of the border patrol in the interest of reaching “100 percent operational control” of the border with Mexico? You don’t have to be an English professor to draw a line between the wall and the fence.
ABC’s DEVIN DWYER: It was only a matter of time: unmanned aerial drones, which have played a critical role in the fight against terrorism overseas, are now being deployed by federal authorities over U.S. soil. The stunning revelation came Wednesday from outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are used in the U.S. “in a very, very minimal way and very seldom,” he said. The FBI says, unlike the military, its fleet of drones is unarmed and used for solely surveillance of stationary targets. Last month, President Obama pledged his administration would never deploy armed drones over U.S. soil. The qualifications are likely little consolation for privacy advocates, who are already alarmed by the sweeping NSA domestic spying programs. By one estimate, the U.S. fleet of drones will grow to 15,000 by 2018.
AT BRANDENBURG GATE, OBAMA WARNS ‘OUR WORK IS NOT YET DONE’. Speaking at Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate, President Obama yesterday challenged Western democracies not to become complacent in the post-Cold War era, saying “our work is not yet done.” “Complacency is not the character of great nations. Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity — that struggle goes on,” the president told a crowd of over 4,000 invitees, ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports. “I’ve come here, to this city of hope, because the tests of our time demand the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half-century ago,” he said. The iconic gate, famed for powerful political statements, has become a symbol of this once-divided city’s reunification. Speaking 50 years after President Kennedy delivered his famous “ich bin ein Berliner” speech on the west side of the Berlin Wall, Obama spoke in what was once East Germany. “While I am not the first American president to come to this gate, I am proud to stand on its Eastern side to pay tribute to the past,” he said. http://abcn.ws/16Ke03L
ASSANGE SAYS WIKILEAKS HELPING SNOWDEN GET ASYLUM. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said yesterday that his group has been in touch with Edward Snowden’s legal team, the man who says he’s behind the National Security Agency leaks, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. “We are in touch with Mr. Snowden’s legal team and have been, are involved, in the process of brokering his asylum in Iceland,” Assange said on a conference call with reporters marking his one year since entering the Ecuadoran embassy in London seeking asylum. Assange said he feels a “great deal of personal sympathy” with Snowden, but would not comment if he has spoken to Snowden directly or if they were in contact before Snowden leaked news to The Guardian and The Washington Post that detailed secret, far-reaching NSA Internet and phone surveillance programs. “As a matter of policy, we do not discuss issues which may relate to sourcing,” Assange told reporters. Snowden is believed to be in Hong Kong but has said he wants to go to Iceland as a place of refuge. Assange was asked if he thought Snowden could travel to Iceland without being stopped by the U.S. government or the United States’ allies and Assange answered, “All those issues are being looked at by the people involved.” http://abcn.ws/11MIWLg
FORMER MISS AMERICA CALLED ‘STREET WALKER’ BY LOCAL GOP LEADER. A former Miss America winner who is now a GOP candidate for Congress was called a string of profane names yesterday, including “street walker,” ”love child” and “Miss Queen. ” Her attacker? A local Republican Party chairman in central Illinois, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports. Erika Harold, the 2003 winner of the Miss America contest, announced two weeks ago that she was running from Illinois’ 13th District. Her decision to challenge Rep. Rodney Davis in the Republican primary has divided some local party members and prompted the name-calling. A full account of the episode first appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Harold, a 33-year-old graduate of Harvard Law School, is black. The criticism against her – from Jim Allen, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party – carried strong racist overtones. He launched his criticism in a letter to Republican News Watch, a local conservative news site. He derided her Miss America platform of advocating for abstinence and against school bullying. “The little queen touts her abstinence, and she won the crown because she got bullied in school — boohoo, kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on,” Allen wrote. “Now, Miss Queen is being used like a street walker, and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS.” http://abcn.ws/11OKJQU
BLOOMBERG GUN GROUP FORCED TO APOLOGIZE. Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was run over by his brother after a gunfight with police, was named as a victim of gun violence during an event held by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the anti-gun violence group run by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Tsarnaev’s name was listed during one of the gun group’s “No More Names” bus events in Concord, N.H., where it read the names of the people who have been killed in connection to gun violence, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported Tuesday, according to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. Several protestors shouted, “He’s a terrorist,” according to the Union Leader. Mayors Against Illegal Guns used a list compiled by Slate.com, titled “How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?” Bloomberg’s gun group called the inclusion of Tsarnaev in its list of gun violence victims a mistake and apologized for the error. http://abcn.ws/11ocnb5
MEXICAN ROOTS FOR MAJORITY OF LATINO AMERICANS. Mexican Latinos make up more than two thirds of all Latinos in the United States, according to a new Pew Hispanic report. Of the 51.9 million Latinos living in the United States in 2011, more than 33.5 million trace their family back to Mexico, ABC’s JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL write. The report looked at demographic data collected from the 2011 American Community Survey. The report also examined U.S. citizenship, education levels and median income among U.S. Hispanics. Puerto Ricans make up the second largest group, accounting for 9.5 percent or about 5 million people. Salvadoran, Cuban and Dominican come in next with 1.9 million, 1.8 million and 1.5 million, respectively – although Salvadoran and Cuban numbers have been statistically equal and alternating yearly. Mexican Latinos have always represented the largest segment of the U.S. Latino population. http://abcn.ws/11z5eBv
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
–DEMOCRATS ANNOUNCE STRONG FUNDRAISING MONTH. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has raised $22.2 million already for the 2014 cycle, the organization announced today. The DSCC had the best non-election year May in the history of the committee, raising $4.9 million, and ending the month with nearly $10 million on hand. “Our supporters didn’t need any more motivation to hold the Senate, but they got more anyway when the Republican ‘War on Women’ grabbed headlines again this month” Guy Cecil, the DSCC’s executive director, said in a statement. “The thought of Mitch McConnell becoming majority leader is enough to motivate most Americans to support our efforts, and we continue to break fundraising records. We still have a very long road to travel, but we are off to a strong start.”
–TWO GROUPS LAUNCH ANTI-MITCH MCCONNELL OFFENSIVE. Today the pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC and Patriot Majority USA today launched what they are calling the “30 Years Is Too Long Campaign,” which is aimed squarely at one of the party’s top targets in 2014: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. According to the groups, “The 30 Years Is Too Long Campaign will be a continuous effort through the Election and use paid television and radio media, digital advertisements, mail, telephones, email, social media, research and a web presence to show Kentuckians that after McConnell’s 30 years in Washington, it is time to switch.” The two groups unveiled a new television ad today that will be broadcast across Kentucky. WATCH: http://www.30yearsistoolong.com/
WHAT WE’RE READING
“IS RAND PAUL GOING MAINSTREAM, OR VICE VERSA?” by the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty. Rand Paul seems to be crossing over to the mainstream — or maybe it’s the other way around. When Kentucky’s junior senator arrived in Washington just over two years ago, he appeared destined to inhabit the role of perpetual outlier. But now, he’s in the mix on just about everything that is happening, and is talked about as a credible Republican presidential contender in 2016. Paul is aggressively trying to forge at least a cordial relationship with GOP establishment interests that have been suspicious of him — sometimes even outright hostile — in the past. … Part of his new relevance comes from the sudden prominence of a set of issues on which Paul has been a somewhat lonely voice in the Republican Party. There is fresh attention to privacy, amid revelations about the government’s aggressive surveillance programs; renewed mistrust of the Internal Revenue Service, in the wake of its admissions of improperly targeting conservative groups for scrutiny; and heightened anxiety about foreign entanglement, as the prospect of deeper U.S. military involvement in Syria looms.” http://wapo.st/17mFsIo