Capitol Hill’s Unfinished Business

Jul 28, 2014 8:59am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • BOEHNER OUTLINES LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMA: In a USA Today Op-Ed House Speaker John Boehner details his big goal for the week: “President Obama has overstepped his constitutional authority — and it is the responsibility of the House of Representatives to defend the Constitution. At the same time, we remain focused on the American people’s top priority: jobs and the economy. I believe the president’s actions in a number of areas — including job-destroying energy regulations, releasing the ‘Taliban 5′ from Guantanamo without notice and waiving the work requirements in welfare — exceed his constitutional authority. On the advice of legal experts, the House action will focus on his decision to extend — twice — the deadline to institute the employer mandate in his health care law. We believe this targeted lawsuit offers the best chance of success.” READ MORE: http://usat.ly/1k2W6Ue
  • TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama spends the morning talking with young African leaders and the afternoon honoring some of the nation’s top artists, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. This morning participates in an on-camera town hall with 500 young people at the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. In the afternoon, Obama awards the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal in a ceremony at the White House. The recipients include singer Linda Ronstadt, composer John Kander, radio host Diane Rehm and DreamWorks CEO  (and Obama mega-donor) Jeffrey Katzenberg.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: With four days left before lawmakers head home for their five-week summer break, the list of unfinished business is long. There’s still a political standoff over the humanitarian crisis at the border. And there’s no agreement over spending bills, raising the prospect that Congress will once again be fighting over how to keep the government running this fall. But on one area, a deal is at hand: Trying to fix the troubled VA. A bipartisan compromise was brokered over the weekend between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jeff Miller, which calls for the hiring of more doctors and also gives veterans the option of seeking treatment outside the VA system. While Sanders and Miller fought bitterly over the deal last week, tempers cooled and they worked out their differences. It should serve as a model for checking off the rest of the to-do list on Capitol Hill this week, but don’t expect other problems to be resolved so easily, particularly immigration.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: If the goal was to get the i-word into the fundraising conversation, and it sure looks like it was, Democrats just put on a clinic. This was always going to be the week the House of Representatives authorized its lawsuit against President Obama, to let off tea party steam and put GOP lawmakers on record opposing the president’s envelope-pushing-by-pen. But now it’s also the week that some top Republicans are just maybe not entirely ruling out impeachment – and that’s thanks to … the White House. It started Friday morning, when senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters that he saw impeachment coming “at some point in the future,” owing in part to the president’s impending executive actions on immigration. House Speaker John Boehner’s office was quick in reiterating that impeachment is off the table. But the fundraising appeals from party committees were already written: The White House was warning that impeachment could be possible. Fact: President Obama will not be impeached. Another fact: Unless or until Republicans shut the government down again, Democrats benefit from discussion of impeaching the president.

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

HOW GOOD WILL IT GET? The 100-day countdown to the midterm elections is on and Republicans are more optimistic than they’ve been in years. “I don’t know how good it’s going to be, but I think it’s going to be good,” Republican national chairman Reince Priebus tells ABC’s JEFF ZELENY. Why are Republicans smiling and Democrats bracing for the fall? Watch this report on the 100-day mark: http://abcn.ws/1rVm4ci

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY ‘IMPRESSED’ BY PAUL RYAN’S POVERTY PLAN. The Former Secretary of Labor to President Bill Clinton told “This Week” he’s impressed by Paul Ryan’s poverty plan ahead of his appearance on the show’s roundtable Sunday. ‘This Week’ asked UC Berkley professor Robert Reich about Ryan’s plan, and he also discussed Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” comment and how she and Sen. Elizabeth Warren may differ on some issues – if both decide to run for president in 2016. http://abcn.ws/1qFkle5

TEXAN BIPARTISAN PAIR: AMERICAN PUBLIC WANTS AN ‘ORDERLY BORDER.’ With just five days until Congress adjourns for summer recess, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, are attempting a bipartisan, last-ditch effort to address the border crisis in their home state – but there are few signs of support in Congress, according to ABC’s ALISA WIERSEMA. “The American public wants us to have an orderly border,” Cuellar told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL on “This Week” Sunday. “They’re seeing chaos at the border.” The Cornyn-Cuellar bill aims to change the existing 2008 law that differentiates between the process undocumented children coming from Central America and those coming from Mexico go through if they are returned to their home countries after entering the U.S. The proposed legislation would allow the U.S. to expedite the deportation process for migrant children from Central America, which is how the U.S. currently handles Mexican immigrants. Despite the lack of strong support in favor of the proposal from congressional Democrats, Cornyn said he remains optimistic about House legislators using the bill as a potential guide for a solution, while acknowledging difficulties in the Senate. http://abcn.ws/1nvUnXt

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD BACKS LEGALIZING POT. After The New York Times editorial board came out in support of the U.S. legalizing marijuana, the paper’s editorial page editor told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL this morning on “This Week” that he has smoked pot. “I’ve never asked the people that work for me whether they smoke pot, and I’m not going to ask. I have smoked pot in my life. I went to college in Colorado in the 1970-s, you figure it out,” Andrew Rosenthal told Karl Sunday on “This Week,” ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL reports. The Times editorial board published its endorsement of the legalization of marijuana nationwide Saturday under the headline “Repeal Prohibition, Again,” writing that the “federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.” “We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws,” the editorial stated. http://abcn.ws/1mRYfwV

RAND PAUL THINKS CRACK (SENTENCING) IS WHACK. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced new legislation Friday that would eliminate the disparity in sentencing for offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Current law carries much harsher penalties for the possession of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, first time offenders possessing 28 grams of crack cocaine would receive a five year mandatory minimum sentence.  People with powder cocaine would have to possess 500 grams to receive that same sentence. Paul introduced the legislation, titled the RESET Act (short for “Reclassification to Ensure Smarter and Equal Treatment Act”), on Thursday, but he made the proposal public  in a speech to the Urban League in Cincinnati last week.  The bill would also reclassify some low level drug possession felonies and make sure that food products that contain drugs are weighed fairly.  http://abcn.ws/1riPNuC

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

REPORT: MORE UNDOCUMENTED KIDS, ESPECIALLY GIRLS, CROSSING THE BORDER. Unaccompanied girls fleeing Central America and caught at the Southwest border has increased 77% since last year, and far more rapidly than the number of boys, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. The analysis, which looks at data provided by the Department of Homeland Security via a Freedom of Information Act, shows that while the number of girls under 18 detained at the U.S.-Mexico border has jumped significantly, the number of boys went up only 8 percent in the same period, according to ABC’s SERENA MARSHALL. While boys have historically made up the majority of those apprehended at the border, the stark rise in girls represents a “change in who is coming across the border,” Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center told ABC News. Probably most shocking in their analysis is the difference between boy and girl unaccompanied teenagers apprehended. Teenage girls saw an increase of 62% this year, but teenage boys have seen almost no change — only 2%. http://abcn.ws/1nDpnE8

 

BLAST FROM THE PAST

LUST FOR POWER: TROVE OF PRESIDENT WARREN HARDING’S LOVE LETTERS REVEAL STEAMY AFFAIR. Warren Harding is typically remembered as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. But a soon-to-be-released trove of love letters between the 29th president and his longtime mistress also reveal that he may have been one of the most passionate. “Some of them are truly beautiful — about what does it mean to be in love,” David Robenalt, the author of “The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage during the Great War” told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL. “‘This is the big love,’ he says, ‘This is the surpassing love.’” Some of the letters include soaring poetry and lurid sexual fantasies. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1xolNPL

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@SarahPalinUSA: Tired of media filters? Well, so am I. So, let’s go rogue together and launch our own member-supported channel!… http://fb.me/1oDPD8cbL 

@bterris: there’s not a lot of people hanging on congress’s every word these days, but one place still prints all of it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/few-may-be-hanging-on-congresss-every-word-but-the-gpo-is-still-printing-them/2014/07/27/4a281b30-1425-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html?wprss=rss_style …

@JamesPindell: .@SenScottBrown becomes 1st Senate candidate in U.S. to air ad about immigration crisis on border http://bit.ly/1qGCJ6h  #nhsen #nhpolitics

@kasie: West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant up with first ad — criticizing President Obama https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doe_nTBQ4MY … #wvsen

@matthewjdowd: It is time many in the GOP and dems let go of the myths of past presidencies. And decide to build brand new leadership based on today.

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