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Immigration is still really dead this time

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Where does immigration go from here?
  • Unaccompanied minors issue drove the final nail
  • Corporations have religions, my friend
  • By the way, 200 more troops are going to Iraq

Immigration: All the pretense is finally gone. After all the, “We’ve got this narrow window” business, President Barack Obama finally acknowledged what we have been noting for a while — immigration reform is dead, done, finito in this Congress. President Obama announced Monday that, because last week House Speaker John Boehner told him the GOP-controlled House would not act on immigration, he would act on his own — by the end of the summer. “[T]hey’ve proven again and again that they’re unwilling to stand up to the tea party in order to do what’s best for the country,” Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden. For his part, Boehner said essentially that there’s nothing new here, that he’s been telling President Obama all along that until his conference can “trust” him, nothing was likely to get accomplished. “In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written,” Boehner said in a statement. “Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.” All of it came almost a year to the date — June 27, 2013 — of when the Senate passed its immigration bill, 68-32. If only Marco Rubio could have seen the future…

Unaccompanied minors: The most tangible piece of action the president announced Monday was that he was going to “move available and appropriate resources from our interior to the border.” It’s an acknowledgment of just what a humanitarian crisis the thousands of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Central America has become. It’s also become another political food fight. The president acknowledged that House Republicans are using it as an excuse not to do anything on reform, and Boehner blamed President Obama for the crisis, charging that his “executive orders have led directly” to it. Today, Secretary John Kerry is in Panama for the inauguration of Panama’s president-elect. His trip there is directly related to the unaccompanied minors crisis, as Mr. Obama said Monday. “I’ve sent a clear message to parents in these countries not to put their kids through this,” he said. “I recently sent Vice President Biden to meet with Central American leaders and find ways to address the root causes of this crisis. Secretary Kerry will also be meeting with those leaders again [Tuesday].” If Eric Cantor’s loss was the final nail, this issue frankly was the wood glue and fast-drying sealant on immigration reform in this House.

The politics of Hobby Lobby: The Supreme Court’s decision Monday allowing closely-held companies to opt out of the health care law’s contraception coverage mandate if it conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs ironically gives Democrats another issue to highlight in the midterm election campaign. As we noted in this space in April, how women have voted has been a good indicator of the outcome of past campaigns. President Obama bested Mitt Romney by 11 points among women in 2012, while in 2010, Republicans edged Democrats by a single point on their way to taking back control of the House. If Democrats hope to keep their majority in the Senate they will likely need a strong showing among women voters this fall, and party leaders were quick to make their case soon after the ruling came down. The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, charged: “It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.” She also criticized Republicans for opposing paycheck fairness legislation, an issue the president took executive action on earlier this year, although it applied just to federal contractors.

Democrats try to fire up women: Outside groups also sounded the alarms Monday. Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List, said the ruling was “a stark reminder of how important it is for Democrats to keep hold of the Senate,” suggesting that “the future of our judiciary branch and women’s access to healthcare is at stake.” Republicans pushed back on such warnings from Democrats. “Liberal interests are once again using blatantly false scare tactics for political gain? SHOCKING,” wrote NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring in an email to PBS NewsHour. “The decision reinforces the widely held public opinion that ObamaCare is a flawed law that infringes on individual rights, freedoms, and religious liberty – plain and simple.” Republicans for the most part framed the decision as a victory for religious freedom, and not about contraceptive coverage — and for good reason. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from March found that a majority of Americans — 53 percent — didn’t think employers should be able to opt out of the contraception mandate, while 41 percent thought they should be allowed to do so. If Democrats are able to use the contraception issue to motivate women voters this fall, it could boost several Senate candidates in close races. Although it is also worth keeping in mind that many of those Democrats are running in red states, which tilt more conservative on social issues and where the president’s health care law is unpopular.


  • Mr. Obama has authorized another 200 troops to secure the American Embassy in Iraq and Baghdad’s airport.

  • Ukraine is blowing up again. Since rebels have not laid down arms during a supposed cease fire, Ukraine’s president is ending the ceasefire and vowing to “liberate our land.”

  • President Obama will ask Congress to fund the Highway Trust Fund by eliminating corporate tax loopholes during a speech in Georgetown Tuesday.

  • Mr. Obama said Monday that the White House is planning an executive order to ban job discrimination based on gender identity among federal employees. The administration’s earlier announced executive order would apply to federal contractors.

  • The Washington Post reports that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court gave the NSA much more expansive authority than previously known to intercept communications from and information concerning all but four countries.

  • The AP goes to Arkansas to see why Mark Pryor is holding steady: “Work off-the-air is what’s keeping Pryor alive. He’s shown a remarkable personal touch with voters who are comfortable with his family name, for decades a powerful political brand in Arkansas. And his aggressive effort to counter televised attacks by emphasizing his independent political style has him still standing in a race few outside the state expect he can win.”

  • The House Ethics Committee has reversed three decades of precedent by quietly removing the requirement that lawmakers disclose lobbyist-funded trips on their annual financial disclosure forms, reports National Journal.

  • The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

  • Congressional Democrats are being more vocal about their support for veterans to stem GOP attacks and public backlash against them from troubles at the VA tied to the Obama administration.

  • Hillary Clinton’s approval ratings are falling, or as The Upshot puts it, starting to “return to earth,” as is to be expected when a potential candidate, like John McCain before her, moves beyond a presidential honeymoon or foreign policy crisis.

  • If elected president, Clinton’s wealth would put her at about the 80th percentile of historical Oval Office wealth. George Washington has the highest inflation-adjusted net wealth of any president.

  • Mitt Romney will attend a fundraiser for Scott Brown at New Hampshire’s Bittersweet Farm Wednesday.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating seems to have stabilized in his state since he took a hit after the bridge scandal. The latest Monmouth/Asbury Park Press poll still has him at a 50 percent approval, about where it’s been since February.

  • Christie is set to return to Iowa for the first time in two years later this month for his second fundraiser for Gov. Terry Branstad.

  • After two months in drug rehab, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is back on the job and appealing to voters for his re-election.

  • Georgia’s new gun law takes effect Tuesday.

  • Maine Gov. Paul LePage is facing allegations from a liberal blogger, some of which he confirms, that he met with “domestic terrorist” groups in 2013.

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry headlines the South Carolina GOP Big Bang BBQ from 7 to 9 p.m. ET.

  • Earmarks, The Movie? House Speaker John Boehner stars as the earmark-blocking hero.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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