Homeward Bound

Jul 31, 2014 9:04am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: As Congress races to finish its paltry to-do list before leaving town for five weeks, there’s a feeling of unease among wise lawmakers in both parties. They’ve had all summer to address critical hot-button issues like the crisis at the border, but they’ve failed to do so in a meaningful and serious way. They know that the August Congressional recess has a habit of causing trouble. The anger that fueled the rise of the Tea Party came alive during a summer break. (It’s the biggest reason town meetings have become nearly extinct for most lawmakers who believe it’s simply not worth the risk.) Will immigration be the issue of August? Or will it be something else? The members of Congress know that they have little control over what flares up during the summer break. Even though they took the safe approach in Washington, that is likely to do little to insulate them from getting an earful back home.
  • BEFORE RECESS, ‘DO NOTHING’ CONGRESS GETS BUSY – RAISING CAMPAIGN CASH: If you’ve been looking for a senator or member of Congress this week, you may have had better luck at The Capital Grille than the Capitol, notes ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL. This final stretch of July is not just the last chance for Congress to address highway funding and the border crisis before a five-week vacation. It’s also the end of the summer fundraising circuit in one of the most expensive midterms election cycles in history, the last chance to collect checks in Washington before the fall campaign season ties down incumbents and candidates in their home districts and states. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been holding at least 100 fundraisers in Washington in the days leading up to the August recess, according to fundraising lists obtained by ABC News, with senators who aren’t even on the ballot in 2014 holding events. With contributions ranging from $50 to $5,000, Washington politicos can join representatives and senators for breakfast, lunch and dinner – or all three. http://abcn.ws/1rGlT3x

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

BOEHNER v. OBAMA: HOUSE APPROVES RESOLUTION TO SUE PRESIDENT. In a partisan vote that marks a new escalation in the Republican confrontation with President Obama, the House of Representatives approved a resolution to authorize Speaker John Boehner to initiate litigation against the president, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON and JEFF ZELENY report. Five Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic Caucus in opposition to the resolution. In a floor speech during debate on the bill, Boehner said the vote was not about differences between Republicans and Democrats, but was “about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold, and acting decisively when it may be compromised.” Boehner will not bring the matter up for a vote before the Bipartisan Legal Advisor Group, known as BLAG. Instead, the next step will either be the House general counsel either files or hires outside counsel, according to a Boehner spokesman. According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, the speaker and his team “decided a BLAG vote was unnecessary, after consulting legal experts.” “The BLAG will not have to meet,” Steel says. “We have greater standing if it’s an act of the whole House.” http://abcn.ws/1nURf8G

TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama has a packed schedule today that includes meeting with members of Congress on foreign policy, signing an executive order on labor laws, and celebrating the anniversary of the Special Olympics, notes ABC’s MARY BRUCE. This morning President Obama meets with members of Congress on foreign policy at the White House. This afternoon, Obama delivers remarks and signs the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplace” order. Later, he delivers remarks at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the evening, the president and first lady host “A Celebration of Special Olympics and A Unified Generation” at the White House.

INSIDE THE MIND OF A FORMER IRS OFFICIAL. Lois Lerner has never explained herself, professing her innocence before taking the 5th when called before a Congressional committee last year. But new emails released Thursday reveal a clue about her politics, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports. She was openly hostile to at least some right-wing Republican views.  “So we don’t need to worry about alien terRorists,” she wrote. “It’s our own crazies that will take us down.” She then uses far saltier language to describe conservative talk radio hosts. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee turned the messages over to the Justice Department and renewed his call for a special prosecutor. “These emails really show Lois Lerner’s political bias and state of mind,” Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., told ABC News. “This is a serious matter when conservative only were targeted – progressives weren’t.”

BERGDAHL TO MEET INVESTIGATORS ON WHY HE LEFT AFGHAN BASE. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be interviewed next week by military investigators about his 2009 disappearance from an Afghan army post that resulted in Bergdahl being captured by the Taliban, according to ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ. Bergdahl’s attorney tells ABC News that he expects his client to be interviewed by Maj. General Kenneth Dahl, a two star general. Attorney Eugene Fidell said it’s his “assumption” that Bergdahl will be interviewed by Dahl next week in San Antonio, Texas.  The lawyer said he will be on hand for the interview when it takes place. An Army official confirms that the meeting is scheduled to take place next week. The military affairs attorney did not provide a specific date for the interview or if it could last more than one day. Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban in May in a controversial swap for five Taliban prisoners who were being held at the Army detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He is currently assigned to U.S. Army North headquarters in San Antonio. http://abcn.ws/1uHoTT5

PRESIDENT OBAMA SCOLDS CONGRESS: STOP ‘HATIN’ ALL THE TIME’. With just two days left until Congress goes on vacation, President Obama today urged lawmakers to get to work and “stop just hatin’ all the time,” according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE. “We could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit,” Obama said, chuckling. “Stop being mad all the time. … I’ve only got a couple years left. Come on, then you can be mad at the next president.” In a rowdy, campaign-style speech before a packed house at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, the president slammed Republicans for wasting time on a “political stunt.” “The main vote that they’ve scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job,” he said, to boos from the crowd. “It’s not a productive thing to do,” he added. “Instead of suing me for doing my job, I want Congress to do its job.” The president touted his executive actions and efforts to circumvent gridlock in Congress, declaring, “We act when Congress won’t.” http://abcn.ws/1zwL7WT

THE LAVISH LIFE AND BROKEN MARRIAGE THAT PUT BOB MCDONNELL AND HIS WIFE IN COURT. Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are currently standing trial on federal corruption charges that began this week with surprisingly personal revelations about the McDonnell’s marriage, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY and ARLETTE SAENZ report. The couple stands accused of accepting over $165,000 in lavish gifts and loans from a friend of the family. That friend, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, was much more than that, according to opening statements in the courtroom. Attorneys for the McDonnells say the couple couldn’t have conspired to use his office for personal gain because they suffered “a broken down” marriage and were “barely on speaking terms.” Maureen McDonnell “was angry for not having enough money, she was angry at [McDonnell] for not spending enough time at home with her, and she hated him for not being available,” attorney John Brownlee, who is representing the former governor, said in court. “Bob and Maureen’s communication broke down almost entirely … this tore their marriage apart.” http://abcn.ws/1qLpEJ1

SENATORS CROSS AISLE ON BILL TO CURB COLLEGE SEXUAL ASSAULT. In a rare show of bipartisanship, a group of Republican and Democratic senators yesterday introduced a bill to curb sexual assaults on college campuses, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. “If you are a young woman and you attend school, the odds jump that you will be sexually assaulted at school, probably by someone you know from your class, from a team, from a party,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said. “The price of a college education should not be that one in five women will be sexually assaulted.” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said, “We are telling our young people every day that in order to get ahead they have to go to school. Let’s make sure that when they do that they’re safe.” The measure, called the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), would create new support services for victims of sexual assault on college campuses, including designating “confidential advisers” for students to speak with and ensure that on-campus staff receives specialized training on handling sexual assault cases. http://abcn.ws/1nUu3XT

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

JOHN MCCAIN: US, FIFA SHOULD ‘RECONSIDER’ HOLDING NEXT WORLD CUP IN RUSSIA. Sen. John McCain and a leading Democratic senator are calling on American and international soccer officials to reconsider the decision to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia, casting it as a way to leverage power against Vladimir Putin in a way he’s sure to understand, ABC’s RICK KLEIN reports. McCain, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games” that while the U.S. can play a leadership role in pressing for a new country to be chosen for hosting duties, there should be no boycott. “It absolutely should be reconsidered, but I would hasten to add that a unilateral decision by the United States would not bode well,” said McCain, R-Ariz. “I’d like to see the United States and others — say, the British perhaps and other countries — raise the issue in ordinary meetings, periodic meetings that they have. Say, ‘We need to discuss this issue. Is it appropriate to have this venue in Russia at this particular time, and aren’t there other countries that would be far less controversial?’” http://abcn.ws/XfaTB2

 

POLLING WATCH

IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT? HISTORY ISN’T ON GOP’S SIDE. They say that history repeats itself, but when it comes to impeachment, Republicans may have learned their lesson the first time, ABC’s RYAN STRUYK notes. Speaker John Boehner insisted Tuesday that Republicans had “no plans to impeach the president,” calling talk of removing President Obama from office “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.” But Dan Pfeiffer, a senior White House adviser, told reporters last Friday the House has “opened the door” to impeaching the president by filing a lawsuit against him over changes made to the health care law that were not approved by Congress. So why are Republican leaders apparently steering away from trying to oust the president? One reason may be that it didn’t make too many people happy the last time. With midterms around the corner and a majority in the Senate up for grabs, Republicans have a lot of chips on the table. The GOP needs public opinion on their side, and based on what happened last time, impeachment likely won’t get them there. http://abcn.ws/1pGbq5K

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@jaketapper: Former VA Gov McDonnell’s previous efforts to streamline the process to restore voting rights to felons sure looks prescient

@tedhesson: Immigration courts are speeding up the cases of children who entered the country without authorization http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/immigration-courts-speed-childrens-cases-24784541 …

@cmarinucci: .@CAGOP gov candidate @NeelKashkari tells @MorningJoe he spent a week with homeless in Fresno to underscore issues of poverty/joblessness

@MarkHalperin: .@KarlRove‘s @WSJ column says Republicans talking impeachment are @BarackObama‘s “useful stooges” @pfeiffer44 agrees

@TerryBranstad: Des Moines ranks in top 10 for best cities for millennials to buy a home http://on.mktw.net/1o7Y312  #iagov #DSM

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