Congress Has Left The Building. Now What?

Aug 4, 2014 8:47am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • OBAMA WEIGHING EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION: With Congress unable to reach an agreement on how to address the nation’s immigration dilemma, President Obama is studying a range of actions that he could take to ease the humanitarian crisis at the border and begin tackling broader immigration reform, administration and congressional officials told ABC News over the weekend. The president is considering what authority he has under existing law to ease the flow of young migrants from Central America who are crossing the U.S./Mexico border, according to ABC’s CHRIS GOOD and JEFF ZELENY. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson are preparing a series of recommendations to give to the president as soon as this week. Supporters of immigration reform are pushing the administration to consider issuing work permits for some of the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S., officials said — a politically explosive move that would likely draw sharp criticism from Republicans. http://abcn.ws/1qDGJzH
  • PFEIFFER — BOEHNER MAY HAVE THE GAVEL, BUT CRUZ HAS THE POWER: It would be “foolish” to rule out the possibility of President Obama being impeached, despite House Speaker John Boehner’s direct denials that there are any plans to do so, because of the power Sen. Ted Cruz has in the House, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday, according to ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL. “When the House takes an unprecedented step to sue the President of the United States … even though he is issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in 100 years. I think it would be foolish to discount the possibility,” Pfeiffer told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on “This Week.” “John Boehner may have the gavel, but Ted Cruz has the power,” Pfeiffer said in the interview. http://abcn.ws/1kfRbiP

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Think the primary season was pretty much over? Well get ready for quite the primary week. This one we don’t just have to watch on Tuesday, but Thursday and Saturday as well. On Tuesday, primaries will be held in Kansas, Washington, Michigan and Missouri, while Thursday brings voters to the polls in Tennessee and Hawaii votes on Saturday. The marquee race Tuesday features another GOP establishment vs. tea party Senate brawl with three-term incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts facing off against Dr. Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama’s. A similar fight will play out Thursday when incumbent GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander takes on tea partier Joe Carr. We’ll be watching for any surprises.  And the Aloha State has turned into quite the battle with the Senate Democratic primary turning into an intra-party clash with incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz up against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, the woman Sen. Daniel Inouye had requested to fill his seat after he died. That wish went unfulfilled by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and he’s now in a primary battle himself, one he could very well lose. There’s much more to watch, so stay tuned for an exciting week.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: “Under the confines of the law.” That’s the limiting principle President Obama will use in crafting executive actions on immigration, as described by White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” yesterday. With Congress not around to not deliver him an immigration bill, the president’s pen is going to have to initiate action, not finalize it, from here. But moral high ground – “if they won’t act, I will,” President Obama has said repeatedly, in other contexts – does not constitute legal authority. This is one of those decisions that will far outlast the political moment. How far the White House chooses to go in this “nation of laws” will define the presidency, perhaps more extensively and permanently than anything George W. Bush did in office.

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

U.S. RAMPS UP CRITICISM OF ISRAEL: ‘APPALLED’ BY ‘DISGRACEFUL’ SHELLING NEAR UN SCHOOL IN GAZA. The U.S. government issued its strongest criticism of Israel to date yesterday, after shelling near a UN school sheltering civilians took at least 10 Palestinian lives in Gaza, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD reports. “The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians,” her written statement read. The statement also included an admonishment to Hamas that “UN facilities, especially those sheltering civilians, must be protected, and must not be used as bases from which to launch attacks.” Psaki’s statement marked the first time during the current Gaza conflict that the U.S. has said explicitly that suspected Hamas activity in the area does not justify Israeli attacks that risk civilian lives. http://abcn.ws/1nihPlY

–NOTED: LARGE GAZA PROTEST OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE. A pro-Palestinian rally and march on the White House drew thousands over the weekend, turning Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Square, the park opposite the White House, into a sea of demonstrators, reports ABC’s CHRIS GOOD. Waving Palestinian flags, chanting, “Free free Palestine” and “five, six, seven, eight, Israel is an apartheid state,” and holding signs that read “Free Palestine, Let Gaza Live,” the demonstrators gathered around a small stage in the park and eventually marched down Pennsylvanian Ave. Protesters criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and President Obama’s assertions that Israel has the “right to defend itself” in the face of Hamas rockets. http://abcn.ws/1sgFkCg

SEN. TIM SCOTT SAYS GOP MUST WIN ‘WAR OF IDEAS’. There are times when Sen. Tim Scott, the lone Republican African-American in Congress, would like to turn down the volume on some of the shrill and inflammatory comments from his fellow senators, note ABC’s JEFF ZELENY and ARLETTE SAENZ. “Yes,” Scott told “This Week.” “I mean just to be blunt? Absolutely.” Whose microphone would he go after first? “I can’t be that blunt,” he said with a laugh, but added he could name several from both sides of the aisle. “We could turn it down a little bit and look for ways to work together.” Scott, a South Carolina Republican, is one of the newest members of the Senate. He said the Republican Party could start making gains diversifying their ranks by changing their tone. “We have to be intentional about our approach to reaching out to every single voter,” Scott said. “We don’t simply need to win the demographic war. We need to win the war of ideas. We need to be in a position to share our ideas in places where we haven’t traditionally gone.” http://abcn.ws/1shHPDn

THE MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM THE BOB MCDONNELL TRIAL. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are charged with selling political favors in exchange for lavish gifts, trips, and shopping expeditions. Over the past week, jurors have heard scintillating testimony and jaw-dropping allegations from the prosecution’s star witness, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Everything from a $20,000 New York City shopping spree Williams took Maureen McDonnell on making stops at Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta, and Bergdorf Goodman to a $6,000 Rolex Williams bought for the governor at the request of his wife. So many of the tales are eyebrow raising, but much of it is detailed in the evidence entered in to court, including photographs of the then-first couple of Virginia enjoying Williams’ Ferrari to the personalized engraving on the back of that pricey watch to text messages with the key parties. ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE has a look at key pieces of evidence in the Bob McDonnell trial. http://abcn.ws/1qA3THe

5 WAYS DEMOCRATS MAY BOOST TURNOUT AT 2016 IOWA CAUCUSES. The Iowa caucuses can make or break presidential candidates just like they did for Barack Obama in 2008, ABC’s CLAEB JACKSON notes. But caucuses, unlike a regular primary, take a lot more effort for the average voter. Like clockwork every four years, Hawkeye State voters gather in meetings to discuss — and ultimately decide which presidential candidate they want to see on the ballot in November — while also selecting convention delegates. These meetings can sometime take hours, and they may not be close to home. The head of the Iowa Democratic Party, hoping for a strong showing in the 2016, proposed some ideas on Friday to boost turnout. Here are five suggestions that Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan proposed at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee: http://abcn.ws/1oWYvA5

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

PELOSI CHASES REPUBLICAN TOM MARINO ACROSS HOUSE CHAMBER. In an unusual breach of decorum, even for the divided Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chased Rep. Tom Marino across the House floor Friday night, taking offense at comments by the Pennsylvania Republican during debate on the border funding bill, ABC’S JOHN PARKINSON and CHRIS GOOD report. “We don’t have law and order,” Marino began as he wrapped up his comments on the border supplemental. “My colleagues on the other side don’t want to do anything about it.” “You know something that I find quite interesting about the other side? Under the leadership of the former Speaker [Pelosi], and under the leadership of their former leader [Rep. Steny Hoyer], when in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed,” he continued. “They didn’t have the strength to go after it back then. But now are trying to make a political issue out of it now.” Off-mic, Pelosi then approached Marino, crossing the aisle in view of cameras, and apparently challenged Marino’s assertion that Democrats did not do anything about the issue when they had majority control. MUST-WATCH VIDEO: http://abcn.ws/WSa55a

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

–”DUELING NARRATIVES: WHAT SHOULD CONGRESS TELL VOTERS IN AUGUST?” a CNN.com Op-Ed by GOP strategist Ron Bonjean. “The polarization merry-go-round in Washington can be very attractive for a member of Congress to fall into selling a partisan only message to their constituents. But, when Americans run into a TV show they don’t like, they turn the channel. Voters are desperate to know about what can be accomplished to help them. Climate change isn’t going to cut it for Democrats and abortion isn’t going to work for Republicans. They simply don’t connect to the average voter concerns. The issues that matter are front and center in everyday American life. Both sides are going to have to address the border crisis and their solutions to the problem. We are dealing with innocent children who are caught up in this mess. The news has saturated America and is a common topic around dinner tables and water coolers across the country. People are concerned and frustrated that Washington has spent too much time finger-pointing at each other. How do our elected officials plan to help create the conditions for more jobs, more money in their wallets and more food on the table? How can their lives be made better for themselves and their children? The Democrats will likely point to some positive economic indicators and rising consumer confidence to show that it is turning around. But they lack an overall agenda to demonstrate there is a future method toward achieving economic stability.” http://cnn.it/1AOu2ZQ

–”CELEBRATED TRIAL LAWYER TO HEAD GROUP CHALLENGING TEACHER TENURE,” by The New York Times’ Motoko Rich. “David Boies, the star trial lawyer who helped lead the legal charge that overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban, is becoming chairman of the Partnership for Educational Justice, a group that former CNN anchor Campbell Brown founded in part to pursue lawsuits challenging teacher tenure. Mr. Boies, the son of two public schoolteachers, is a lifelong liberal who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore and prosecuted Microsoft in the Clinton Administration’s antitrust suit. In aligning himself with a cause that is bitterly opposed by teachers’ unions, he is emblematic of an increasingly fractured relationship between the Democrats and the teachers’ unions. As chairman of the new group, Mr. Boies, 73, will join Ms. Brown as the public face of a legal strategy in which the group organizes parents and students to bring lawsuits against states with strong tenure and seniority protections.” http://nyti.ms/1sm9vIg

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@daveweigel: Here’s all you need to know about the “Romney comeback” story: It’s August.

‏@Schultz44: + Congressman Steve King http://ow.ly/zTuss  RT: @WSJPolitics White House Keeps Impeachment Talk Alive http://on.wsj.com/1sjY7MX 

@dcexaminer: Saxby Chambliss calls Democrats “absolutely wrong” about CIA tactics http://washex.am/UVbSV4 

@JesseFFerguson: From National Journal: “House Democrats Claim Momentum Heading Into August” http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/house-democrats-claim-momentum-heading-into-august-20140804 …

@ajjaffe: Good morning! ICYMI this weekend, my dispatch from Fancy Farm: Beshear took a selfie, Rand spoke in rhyme: http://bit.ly/1uZJj9R  #KYSen

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