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Obama: GOP's 'Extreme' Border Measure Merely a 'Message Bill'

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement while at the White House in Washington, August 1.
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement while at the White House in Washington, August 1.LARRY DOWNING / Reuters

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President Barack Obama on Friday derided House Republicans for attempting to pass an "extreme" version of an immigration bill "just so they can check a box" before leaving for summer recess.

Calling a new version of the border crisis legislation merely a "message bill" that represents "the most extreme and unworkable version of a bill that they already know is going nowhere," the president alluded to making his own "tough decisions" about taking executive action to address the issue.

"I'm going to have to act alone," he told reporters in the White House briefing room, adding that the government must "reallocate resources" to cover the cost of dealing with the influx of unaccompanied minors.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner shot back that the president has been "completely AWOL" on trying to solve the border issue.

"Senate Democrats have left town without acting on his request for a border supplemental," said spokesman Michael Steel. "Right now, House Republicans are the only ones still working to address this crisis."

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After a false start Thursday, the House is expected to vote later Friday afternoon on a scaled-back measure to address the border crisis, but it is a far cry from the $3.7 billion emergency funding request made by the president last month. The House package of votes, which had to be overhauled to garner sufficient GOP support for passage, would also defund the president’s deferred action program and make it easier to return unaccompanied minors quickly to their home countries. The White House has already threatened to veto it.

The Senate has also failed to advance its own version of the border legislation, which was more similar to Obama's proposal.

Both chambers did muster support for eleventh-hour passage of key transportation and veterans affairs bills late Thursday -- accomplishments that the president praised at the beginning of his remarks.

But as Congress departs for its vacation, no help from Congress will be headed to the border before lawmakers return in November.

The Obama administration is widely expected to act on its own to address the problem of unaccompanied young migrants and broader immigration issues later this year.

In a wide-ranging press conference Friday, Obama also addressed the ongoing crises in Gaza and Ukraine, telling critics of his foreign policy that the United States cannot always influence global players who don't act "rationally."

"People have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world," he said.


- Carrie Dann