Congress Reacts to President’s Emergency Funding Request for Unaccompanied-Minor Immigrants
On Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the issue of thousands of children without parents crossing the southern border illegally. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that he would like his Chamber to finish work on a funding bill before Congress breaks for its annual August recess. Republicans generally have criticized the President for failing to secure the border, but some have not gone so far as to deny the need for additional funds. Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner said they would review the bill before offering an opinion. Others have been pointed in their criticism. “Congress shouldn’t give President Obama a single penny until we see him use the current resources to secure the border, increase interior enforcement, and reduce illegal immigration”, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said in a statement.
House Primaries Suggest More Polarized 114th Congress
Most of the House of Representatives primary elections have been decided already, which means that a large number of the general elections have been too. According to David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, seven-eighths of the races are determined before Election Day. By the time this year’s elections are finished, the United States will probably see a more partisan Congress. “The upshot from GOP and Democratic primaries thus far, and from the exodus of moderates in Congress, points to a more polarized House of Representatives, with the two sides moving farther apart”, writes Caitlin Huey Burns of RealClearPolitics. A number of liberal Democrats have won their primaries this year. Additionally a handful of seats belonging to retiring moderate Democrats will probably be turned over to the Republicans, while other Blue Dog Democrats, like Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia or Representative John Barrow of Georgia, are also facing competitive challenges from Republicans this year.
“Establishment” and “Tea Party” Republicans: Coming to an Accord
The Republican Party is not going through a civil war, National Review’s Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru write; it is “converging on a new synthesis”. The results of this year’s primary elections have variously resulted in both “Tea Party” and “establishment” candidates winning their elections, rather than one side dominating the other. “The tea parties have almost since their inception been attacking the party establishment for not standing for anything, and the establishment has been complaining for nearly as long that tea-party candidates are not ready for prime time. This primary season, each side seems to be learning the other’s lesson”, they write. For instance, “establishment” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky may have won a majority of “tea party” votes. Likewise, the “Tea Party” Ben Sasse of Nebraska “campaigned on a full-throated anti-Obamacare and anti-Washing message” but is also “a former Bush official who didn’t scare anyone”. Lowry and Ponnuru conclude, “It is just possible that the party as a whole is fumbling toward the right combination — realism about means and idealism about ends — and devising a winning policy agenda.”
Correcting Mistaken Votes in the House
We all make mistakes, including Members of Congress. The Members even make mistakes on their central duty: voting on legislation. To vote, Members of the House of Representatives insert their voting cards into an electronic device, and press a button for yes, no, or present. If they realized they made a mistake before the end the voting period, they may make a change. However, if they do not get to change their vote by the end of the period, they may insert a statement into the Congressional Record stating how they intended to vote. This does not change the outcome at all, but it does allow the Member to head off potential criticism from voters back home, if it was a particularly controversial vote. According to The New York Times blogger Derek Willis, most mistakes—about two-thirds of them—happen during votes on amendments. He suggests this “could be a result of House leaders stacking multiple votes in a row, often during an evening session. Many spending bills have multiple amendment votes in two- or five-minute increments, which can lead to a flurry of rapid (and repetitive) voting decisions.”
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