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Obama to Congress: Ball's in Your Court on the Border Crisis

The president says Congress has a responsibility to act to pass an emergency funding bill to address the influx of migrant children.
Image: Barack Obama, Rick Perry
President Barack Obama puts a hand on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's back as they board the Marine One helicopter in Dallas to head to a meeting on the border and immigration, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Obama to Congress: Ball is now in your court

Facing thousands of Central American children coming into the United States and dealing with criticism that he didn’t visit the U.S.-Mexico border on his trip to Texas, President Obama delivered this message on Wednesday night: The ball is now in Congress’ court to help fix the problem. Recapping his earlier conversation with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Obama said, “There’s nothing that the governor indicated he’d like to see that I have a philosophical objection to… But what I emphasized to the governor was the problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem. The challenge is -- is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done.” The president was referring to the White House’s request for Congress to appropriate $3.7 billion to pay for increased border enforcement, more immigration judges, and a humanitarian response to the unaccompanied children. He added, “Another way of putting it -- and I said this directly to the governor -- is are folks more interested in politics, or are they more interested in solving the problem? If they’re interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved. If the preference is for politics, then it won’t be solved.”

House GOP working group suggests a willingness to work with Obama

Obama’s message to Congress underscores one of the questions after House Speaker John Boehner’s upcoming lawsuit against the president: If Congress is going to criticize the administration’s executive actions, then doesn’t it need to start legislating when there is a public-policy problem? Interestingly, House Republicans tasked with responding to this crisis issued a statement suggesting a potential willingness to work with the White House. “We agree with the president that [these children] must be returned to their home countries in the most humane way possible and that will require a revision of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. In addition, the FY 2015 appropriations process is already under way in the House which addresses resources related to the current crisis.” More from the House GOP working group, per NBC’s Frank Thorp: “Over the next several days we will review the facts and continue to gather on-the-ground information in order to develop a series of recommendations regarding actions the administration can take within its authority as well as legislative solutions for the Congress to consider to address this crisis.”

Perry wants the National Guard to come to the border, Obama signals he’s open to that -- if it’s the price for Congress to pass the supplemental

Meanwhile, in an interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the burden is on President Obama -- not Congress -- when it comes to this immigration crisis. “I think the burden is on the president to show us with his actions. I asked him also to put a thousand National Guard troops, of course this is a longstanding request for the president,” Perry told Alexander. “But I hope he understands that the National Guard and the message that it sends down to Central America -- that you cannot send your children up here … they’re not going to be able to come into the United States.” For his part, Obama told reporters that he COULD be open to deploying National Guard troops, if that was the price to get Congress to pass the supplemental bill. “What I told [Perry] is we’re happy to consider how we could deploy National Guard down there, but that's a temporary solution, that's not a permanent solution,” Obama said, adding: “If the Texas delegation said, for us to pass the supplemental we want to include a commitment that you’re going to send some National Guard early, we’d be happy to consider it.”

Out of all the possible GOP presidentials, Rand Paul has had the strongest 2014 -- so far

Of course, Perry’s involvement in this immigration story certainly has 2016 overtones. Indeed, as one of us wrote earlier this week, the issue gives him the chance for a “do-over on a major issue that tripped him up in the 2012 presidential election.” But when looking at the potential 2016 GOP field, here’s a question to ponder: Who looks stronger today than at the beginning of the year? It’s not Chris Christie (whose administration has been besieged by the Bridge-gate scandal). It’s not Jeb Bush (consider how his “act of love” statement would be playing right now during this current immigration debate if he were running for president). It’s not Scott Walker (who got bad headlines from the release of those John Doe documents, though the prosecutor walking things back is a temporary help). And even though he’s had a bit of Inside-the-Beltway renaissance, it’s not Marco Rubio (if Eric Cantor’s support for a limited Dream Act took him down in his GOP primary, think of how Rubio’s authorship of the “Gang of 8” could play out in 2015-2016). No, the person who’s arguably had the strongest 2014 -- and remember we’re still a year away from the contest beginning -- is Rand Paul.

Summing up Paul’s moves

Consider: Paul recently hired Rick Santorum’s former campaign manager to head up his PAC’s New England (read: New Hampshire) efforts. He’s teamed up with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) for bipartisan legislation to overhaul the U.S. criminal system. His general foreign policy seems more popular with the public, and even with Republicans, than folks would have thought a year ago: The April NBC/WSJ poll found a plurality of Americans -- and even a plurality of GOPers -- wanting an America that’s less active in world affairs. And by NOT voting for the “Gang of 8” Senate immigration legislation, Paul has cover with his GOP base here, even as he continues to express a desire for immigration reform. All of that said, Paul has this going against him if he runs: He will see much of his party (the Cheneys, the pro-Israeli hawks, and other parts of the establishment) trying to take him down. Just ask Howard Dean from 2004 – that isn’t an envious position.

Biden to appear at Netroots Nation

Turning to the potential Democratic field, this development is interesting: Vice President Joe Biden is showing up at this month’s upcoming Netroots Nation. “Vice President Joe Biden will speak next week at Netroots Nation -- a major gathering of progressive and Democratic bloggers and activists looking to ‘strategize for upcoming political battles in 2014 and 2016,’” McClatchy writes. “Biden will speak Thursday at the conference in Detroit, which is expected to draw as many as 3,000 activists, along with party leaders. The group says Biden -- who will address the conference for the first time, ‘has in many ways given heart and soul to this administration.’”

NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll

54% have heard enough from Sarah Palin: Finally, more than half of the country has a message for former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin: enough. That's the result from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll in which 54% of voters say they've heard enough from Palin and would prefer that she be less outspoken in political debates. That includes nearly two-thirds of Democrats, a majority of independents, and even nearly four-in-10 Republicans. And the results come as Palin has called for President Barack Obama's impeachment. But Palin isn't the only former politician voters wish would stay away from politics. Consider: 51% of voters say they've heard enough from former presidential candidate Jessie Jackson; 45% say they've heard enough from former Vice President Dick Cheney; 43% say they've heard enough from former House Speaker (and presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich; 40% say they've heard enough from former Vice President Al Gore; and 32% say they've heard enough from former President Bill Clinton.

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