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When the going gets tough, the GOP turns to the border

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Migrants from Central America, who were previously expelled from the U.S. and sent back to Mexico under Title 42, walk across the Paso del Norte international border bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Migrants from Central America, who were previously expelled from the U.S. and sent back to Mexico under Title 42, walk across the Paso del Norte international border bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 15, 2021.Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters

WASHINGTON — After President Biden told GOP governors this week to “get out of the way” if they aren’t trying to defeat the coronavirus in their states, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fired back:

“Why don’t you do your job, why don’t you get this border secure and until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about Covid from you.”

If that “what about the border?” comeback sounds familiar, it is. Over the past decade, GOP candidates and officeholders have frequently invoked the border on a host of different topics.

Like during the Ebola scare of 2014: “Senate candidate Scott Brown (R) said in a press release Thursday that Ebola ‘underscores the need to secure our borders,’ specifically with Mexico,” the Washington Post reported during the ’14 midterms.

Or with that migrant caravan during the ’18 midterms. “That’s an invasion. I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what the fake media says. That’s an invasion of our country,” former President Donald Trump said back then (and didn’t bring up again after the election was over).

Or now with the coronavirus. "This is a guy [Biden] that ran for president saying he would shut down the virus,” DeSantis said on Fox News. “Yet what is he doing? He is bringing in people from over 100 different countries across the southern border.”

Let’s be clear: The current migrant/asylum situation at the border is one of the thorniest policy issues the Biden administration is dealing with, and its low poll numbers on the subject (from Republicans, Democrats and independents) reflect that.

But when the border situation starts becoming something else — Ebola, midterm politics or now the Covid spread in unvaccinated parts of the country — then it’s really no longer about what’s happening at the border.

Here comes the CBO score

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released its long-awaited score of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The bottom line from the report: The bill will add $256 billion to the deficit over 10 years, per NBC’s Garrett Haake and the NBC Capitol Hill team.

Remember, proponents of legislation said it would be fully paid for. Are they wrong? Or right?

Well, it depends on how you do the math, Haake adds. “The bill's authors used so-called ‘dynamic scoring’ to come to that conclusion, in which they include the estimated economic growth the bill would generate. That generates more theoretical revenue. The bill's authors have been pre-butting this report, and believe the deficit impact would be much smaller.”

More: “The CBO does not use this method. If this all sounds familiar, it may be because Republicans leaned on dynamic scoring to argue that their 2017 tax cuts would not add to the deficit either.”

Here comes the roadblock in the Senate

Due to that CBO score, GOP Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., last night blocked speeding up the timeline to consider final amendments to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, NBC’s Julie Tsirkin and Leigh Ann Caldwell report.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

943,000: The increase in payroll employment in July, per the BLS.

565 square miles: The size of the area consumed by the Dixie Fire, which the AP notes is bigger than Los Angeles.

270 million: The number of people estimated to face or be at a high risk for food insecurity, according to a UN report detailed in a New York Times story about global hunger.

35,589,310: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 118,899 more than yesterday morning.)

619,158: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 588 more than yesterday morning.)

348,966,419: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 836,941 since yesterday morning.)

49.9 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

60.8 percent: The share of all American adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

Youngkin still set to attend “Election Integrity” event

GOP gubernational nominee Glenn Youngkin’s campaign tell us that the candidate is still set to attend this weekend’s “Election Integrity Regional Rally” at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

The two GOP nominees running on the statewide ticket with Youngkin — Lt. Gov. nominee Winsome Sears and AG nominee Jason Miyares — won’t be attending.

The Democratic Party of Virginia will be holding a conference call with reporters at 10:30 am ET today to discuss Youngkin’s participation at the event.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has died.

Conor Lamb is running for Senate in Pennsylvania.

9/11 survivors and their families are calling on President Joe Biden to declassify material that could link Saudi leaders to the attack, or to not come to a memorial this year.

The new guidance on the delta variant has vaccinated parents worried about whether they can infect their unvaccinated children.

Olympic officials kicked two Belarusian coaches out of the Olympic Village after a Belarusian sprinter tried to flee their custody and not return to her home country out of fear.

The Wall Street Journal reports the FDA is working on a plan for potential Covid booster shots, which could be ready by September.

The House Oversight Committee is handing off interviews to the Jan. 6 committee as the latter charts its course.

The Census Bureau says it will release redistricting data next Thursday, the next step in the high-profile process.