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August Comes To The Hill, But House GOP Hasn't Started Recess Quite Yet


From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Ari Shapiro. President Obama is put out with Congress again. This time the disappointment over the lack of action on funding to address the influx of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. At this moment, the House of Representatives is still wrestling with what to do about the situation. The congressional recess was supposed to begin today. The Senate has already left. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has the latest.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: President Obama seems to be getting used to the idea that Congress is going to give him very little of what he wants. He asked for a $3.7 billion emergency funding bill to deal with the crisis of Central American children entering the U.S. illegally. Senate Democrats failed to deliver a scaled-back version of that before leaving town for recess. And in the House, Republican leaders have tacked further and further to the right with their own border bill, trying to get enough GOP votes to pass it.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: House Republicans as we speak are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere. They can't pass the Senate and that if it were to pass the Senate I would veto - they know it. They're not even trying to actually solve the problem. This is a message bill that they couldn't quite pull off yesterday so they made it a little more extreme so maybe they can pass it today.

KEITH: A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner says, the president has been completely AWOL on the border issue, sending mixed messages to Congress. California Republican Devin Nunes says, House Republicans have been working to get the language right.

CONGRESSMAN DEVIN NUNES: The right thing to do is to pass a good bill that takes care of the immediate problem. And we have a responsibility to do that and that's what this bill does. So it's always better to try to do the right thing than to just shirk your duties and not do anything.

KEITH: A vote is expected later today. And if the House does manage to pass a border bill it will give Republicans a talking point they can use during the long recess - we tried, Democrats didn't. Hal Rogers is a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

CONGRESSMAN HAL ROGERS: We've got a crisis down there right this minute. And the house is trying to deal with it. And I would urge the Senate come back and do their job.

KEITH: Senate Democrats and the Obama administration say there's no way they'll accept what the House is offering. The bill would spend just shy of $700 million on the border situation, giving money directly to states that want to send in the National Guard. It also makes it easier to deport Central American children and would shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. This was created by President Obama through executive action a couple of years ago and allows children brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were young to stay in the country. The program does not apply to the Central American children showing up along the border but Republicans say it is a magnet that led to the flood of recent migrants. Now the president says, he's going to have to act on his own to deal with the border situation. Tamara Keith, NPR News, The White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.