The Summer Of Our Discontent

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • A LONG, HOT AUGUST: Lawmakers heading home to their states and districts today would be wise to brace themselves for an onslaught of activism aimed squarely at their town hall meetings, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP notes. Liberals and conservatives are pitched in battle over the issue of funding President Obama's health care law. Conservative groups announced yesterday that they are throwing everything they have at the effort to build support for proposals in the House and Senate to defund "Obamacare" at the same time that Congress approves funding the entire federal government. To that end, Tea Party Patriots, the Christian conservative group, Family Research Council Action, Heritage Action, Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, will encourage their 6 million members to head out to their members' town hall meetings this month. And Heritage Action will launch a "defund Obamacare Tour," featuring Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and his father, Rafael Cruz.
  • DEMOCRATIC FIGHT CLUB: Democrats are also organizing to counter anti-Obamacare efforts with a campaign-style strategy to defend and promote the law in 10 states this month. Americans United for Change and Protect Your Care, two groups run by former Democratic Party and labor union officials, have teamed up to lead the effort. "We will deploy every tool and tactic at our disposal to accomplish these goals, including events with supportive members, administration officials, protests at Republican events, editorial meetings, social media events press releases, op-eds, videos, emails, and even in some cases ads," Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse told reporters.
  • OF CANTALOUPES AND INCARCERATION: Immigration reform will also be a hot topic over the August recess. Forty pro-immigration advocates were arrested in front of the Capitol yesterday in what they called an act of "civil disobedience" to protest House's continued resistance to comprehensive immigration reform, ABC's SERENA MARSHALL reports. The group of around 40 labor, faith and other leaders sat down in the middle of Independence Avenue, in front of the Cannon office building, where members of Congress work, to protest the inaction on immigration reform in the House. About 200 others stood in support, chanting "Si, se puede." Inside the office building, 224 House members received a "gift" from pro-immigration advocates: A cantaloupe. On each fruit a message was affixed: "Grown in California/Harvested by Immigrants" and "You Gave King a Vote, Now Give Us a Vote on Citizenship." The message referred to Rep. Steve King's recent contention that immigrants had "calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
  • SUPER PAC LAUNCHES ANTI-'ANTI-IMMIGRANT' SITE: American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC, is capitalizing on Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King's claim that undocumented youth tend to be drug mules rather than good students, FUSION's JORDAN FABIAN notes. It launched a website (in both English and Spanish) Thursday titled "All Steve King's Men," which highlights other inflammatory statements made by 27 GOP politicians it dubs "anti-immigrant." The list includes some recognizable names, like former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney (self-deportation), Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (called almost all Dominican immigrants useless to society), Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (most illegal crossers are controlled by drug cartels) and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (compared immigration enforcement to chasing down rats). A video featured on the site serves a highlight reel of the remarks.

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK'. As a new terror threat closes American embassies overseas, we go one-on-one with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, in an ABC News exclusive. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with ABC News' George Will, Matthew Dowd, and Jeff Zeleny, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, and Soledad O'Brien. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday:


-THE 'STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS' IS BACK: MCCAIN ON HIS FEARS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE GOP. Sen. John McCain has a strong warning for Republicans: Falter on immigration reform and the party will lose in 2016. "If we fail on immigration reform, it won't matter who our nominee is because of the polarization of the Hispanic vote," McCain, R-Ariz., tells "The Fine Print's" JEFF ZELENY. "Now that's not why I'm for immigration reform but it certainly is one of the consequences of a failure." McCain, who has simultaneously emerged as a friend to the White House and a critic of some of the new GOP firebrands on Capitol Hill, says he's hopeful that the August congressional recess will bring lawmakers back to Washington "with at least a willingness to move forward" on a course to overhaul the nation's immigration system. "Members are back interacting with their constituents," McCain says of the upcoming recess. "And we see a coalition of Evangelicals, of the Catholic Church, of business, of labor, of small business, high tech, across the board, support the likes of which we, I've never seen for one specific part of legislation."

- SENATORS BEHAVING BADLY: HARRY REID SAYS 'SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP'. How do you quiet down a group of chatty senators who are on the verge of heading home for a month-long recess? "Have senators sit down and shut up!" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said to Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who was presiding over the Senate yesterday, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. Reid's suggestion came ahead of a cloture vote on a transportation and housing funding bill, which eventually failed. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, prepared to make her case for why senators should move forward with the $54 billion spending bill, but a group of senators were talking loudly. Reid, who is known to use salty language from time to time, wanted to quiet them down. WATCH:


CHRISTIE PASSES ON BEER SUMMIT, HEADS TO VEGAS TO RAISE MONEY. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have said he's too busy for a beer summit with Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, but he's not too busy to go to Las Vegas to attend a fundraiser for his gubernatorial re-election with billionaire casino magnate and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. On his weekly "Ask the Governor" radio show Wednesday evening, Christie said of Paul's suggestion for a beer summit to bury the hatchet, "I don't really have time for that at the moment. I'm running for re-election." Thursday he was busy raising funds for that re-election at a private fundraiser held by Adelson and his wife Miriam at the Palazzo, an aide to the campaign confirms. He is also attending the KIPP School Summit while in Nevada to discuss education reform. KIPP is the Knowledge is Power Program, a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools. Christie is a strong proponent of charter schools and he spoke at the School Choice Now National Policy Summit last year when it was held in Jersey City.

SOME US EMBASSIES TO CLOSE FOR SECURITY CONCERNS. Some U.S. embassies and consulates will close this Sunday, Aug. 4 because of security concerns, ABC's CHRIS GOOD and DANA HUGHES report. The closures, ordered by the State Department, were precautions taken in response to security threats. A Senior State Department official said that the embassies and consulates are being closed because "the Department has been apprised of information that indicates we should institute these precautionary steps."

SENATE BLOCKS $54 BILLION TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING BILL… Senate Republicans blocked a $54 billion transportation and housing bill Thursday afternoon right before heading into a month-long recess, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The Senate voted 54-43, six votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for housing and transportation agencies. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the lone Republican who voted in favor of moving forward with the bill and urged her colleagues to follow suit. "Think very carefully bout this vote," Collins said. "It would be so unfortunate if we go home to our constituents in August and are forced to tell them that we're unable to do our job." The failed vote was a victory for Republicans and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who had stepped up his opposition to the bill in recent days. Republicans said they opposed the appropriations bill because it exceeded the spending levels set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

…BUT CONFIRMS SAMANTHA POWER AS UN AMBASSADOR. Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed Samantha Power to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thursday afternoon by a vote of 87-10. President Obama nominated Power in June to replace Susan Rice, who took over as his national security adviser. Power worked on the president's 2008 campaign and served as a foreign policy adviser. She started her career as a journalist and won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book, "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." While Power was confirmed by a strong majority, she is a controversial figure. Power faced resistance from pro-Israel groups over a 2002 statement she made calling for a "mammoth protection force" to prevent violence between Israel and Palestine in the hypothetical creation of a Palestinian state. During her confirmation hearing in June, she backed away from the comment, calling it "remarkably incoherent."

WITH SNOWDEN LOOSE, LAWMAKERS URGE OBAMA TO NIX RUSSIA TRIP. After Russia granted NSA leaker Edward Snowden asylum for one year, top lawmakers in the U.S. Congress warned that the diplomatic move jeopardizes the bilateral relationship between the former Cold War adversaries and suggested that President Obama reconsider an upcoming trip to meet with the Russian president, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON and ARLETTE SAENZ note. Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate's third-ranking Democrat, called Snowden, who was stuck in a Moscow airport for 39 days, a "coward who has chosen to run," and advised the president to reconsider an upcoming trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit early next month. "Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife," Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote in a scathing statement. "Given Russia's decision today, the president should recommend moving the G-20 summit." Sen. John McCain, a senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, called Russia's decision a "disgrace" and a pointed move to "embarrass" the United States. House Speaker John Boehner said that while Snowden's actions "have hurt the ability of our country to protect our citizens," he is leaving it to Obama to "decide the best way to engage" Putin. More on the Snowden asylum from ABC's State Department reporter DANA HUGHES and political reporter SHUSHANNAH WALSHE:

WORD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: The White House had announced in June that Obama also intended to stop in Moscow to attend a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday the administration is now re-evaluating whether Obama will make the trip. "I don't have a scheduling announcement for you today but, obviously, this is not a positive development," Carney said. "And we have a wide range of interests with the Russians, and we are evaluating the utility of a summit."


THE CIA'S TOP SECRET EFFORT TO MAKE FBI'S MUELLER LAUGH. Ever wonder what top administration officials whisper to each other when they're testifying on Capitol Hill? "Everybody thinks we're [whispering] something profound to each other," former CIA director George Tenet said yesterday about his times answering lawmakers' questions beside FBI Director Robert Mueller. "I would cup my hand and say something to Mueller like, 'Bob, isn't that the dumbest question you've ever heard?'" Mueller would stiffly mouth back, "Shut up," Tenet recalled, according to ABC's MIKE LEVINE. Top Justice Department officials, FBI colleagues, lawmakers, former U.S. officials and the nation's top two intelligence officials - gathered in Washington for a farewell ceremony to Mueller - erupted into laughter at Tenet's story. During his own remarks, Mueller confirmed that Tenet used to try to make him laugh during congressional hearings. Mueller is leaving the FBI next month after 12 years at its helm. Mueller took the post a week before the 9/11 attacks.


-DEMOCRATS BLAST REPUBLICANS FOR 'WASTING TIME ON MEANINGLESS VOTES'. The Democratic National Committee is out with a new video this morning to mark the House's 40th vote to repeal Obamacare. "While the GOP thinks this is how they should spend their time, President Obama and the American people are focused on growing the middle class by creating good jobs that pay decent wages. John Boehner has been clear about this GOP policy of obstructionism saying Congress should be 'judged on how many laws we repeal,'" according to a DNC official. "Today's vote is just the latest example of Republicans' constant obstructionism." WATCH:


@davidaxelrod: When is the draft @Messina2012 for U.S. Senate campaign going to begin? No one knows Montana better!

@BuzzFeedBen: Big @mckaycoppins take on the shift from offense to defense - and a kind o libertarianism - on the religious right …

@jeffzeleny: Look who's not talking now? Elizabeth Warren. A rare senator whose lips are sealed. @mviser calls her out in Globe:

@gwenifill: Toes in the sand, Eyes on the page. My Take on good reads by @danbalz @MarkLeibovich & (soon) by @peterbakernyt

@EvanMcSan: UC system gives Janet Napolitano $142k moving allowance, $9k annual car allowance …

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