July 24th, 2014
06:51 PM ET
9 years ago

White House: ‘Alarming if Congress leaves for the August recess without acting’

(CNN) – In yet another sign that Congress will leave town next week without addressing the influx of young migrants at the southern border, a senior White House official acknowledged there are major doubts that lawmakers will approve President Barack Obama's request for emergency funding to deal with the crisis.

"Alarming if Congress leaves for the August recess without acting," the official told reporters ahead of the visit of three Central American presidents to the White House on Friday.

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The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, conceded that demands, mainly from Republicans, to change immigration policy enacted in a 2008 law could scuttle efforts to pass Obama’s $3.7 billion funding bill by the end of next week, when members of Congress leave Washington until after Labor Day.

The Bush-era law entices unaccompanied minors from Central America by granting special legal status in U.S. immigration courts.

"If it is an impediment to getting resources, then that is a problem," the official said of calls to change the 2008 law.

Obama supports making alterations to the law to give the Department of Homeland Security more leeway in removing migrant children who do not qualify for asylum status.

House Speaker John Boehner called on Obama to get more engaged.

“This is a problem of the President's own making. And then he tries to – says he wants to solve the problem so that we can stop this influx, but then he changes his mind,” he said Thursday. “We've got a President that's AWOL. And the President ought to get engaged in this if he actually wants something to happen.”

The 2008 law was an effort to combat human trafficking. A leading bipartisan proposal to change it, advanced by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, is not supported by the administration, a senior White House official said.

Making things more complicated is resistance by congressional Democrats to changing the law.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who authored it, said she’s received draft language from the administration with suggested changes. She said she’s looking at them but doubts there’s any way they can happen before the recess.

“This bill is very complicated and we have to know what we’re doing and I think the important thing is to get the supplemental,” the California Democrat told CNN.

As for House Republicans who signal they won’t pass any bill until the law is changed, Feinstein cautioned, “I think that’s a big mistake,” noting there is also money in the bill to battle wildfires in the West.

Sen. Richard Durbin, one of many powerful Democratic opponents of changing the law, told CNN that the Senate Democratic caucus was at first split on the issue but now the “overwhelming majority” thinks it would be a mistake to make changes.

Asked if the administration is pushing aggressively – if at all anymore – to make the changes that they say they want, Dubin pointed to the draft changes that Feinstein received.

“Many of us are very wary of that,” he said. “First we think the President has all the authority he needs, number one, and number two, when the door is cracked open we think Cornyn and Cuellar and (Ted) Cruz and the whole gang of anti-immigrant opponents are going to walk through it.”

Other senior White House officials said Obama will encourage the Central American leaders from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to do more to disrupt human smuggling networks in their countries.

The presidents of those countries are seeking financial assistance in return. But that money could also be in jeopardy as officials at the briefing noted the supplemental bill offers $295 million to Central America to deal with the crisis.

Filed under: Congress • Immigration • President Obama • White House
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Gary

    Recess is the propper word, something where the children go and play. You can't call it a vacation because that would mean a break from working.

    July 24, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Get used to it..........you have you way for the last time, Obama.

    July 24, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. Kristine

    What's ALARMING is how Obama is off fundraising day after day. Spewing CO2 into the air with that BIG HUGE jet....all to raise money for the global warming monger democrats who don't seem to have a problem with the BIG HUGE footprint Obama puts on this earth. As long as he raises CASH for them...he can pollute all he wants.

    Oh the hypocrisy.

    July 24, 2014 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Alarming, but hardly surprising. If there is a word to describe the House, " deadbeats" would be the most accurate. Bound and determined to be the most ideologically-driven, least productive House in history. No one should be surprised by the lack of action. I liken Boehner and his minions to a case of gas: loud, offensive, with very little substance, and with a tendency to linger until a breeze comes along.

    July 24, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. Chipster

    After doing nothing for so long, why would anyone expect this do-nothing Congress to suddenly do something, anything? They will continue to do nothing and blame the President. I'd like to be hopeful that voters will get rid of the obstructionists this Fall. But, being realistic, voters are famous for also doing nothing. They don't bother to study the candidates or the issues and never bother to check their information sources for accuracy or even truth. I expect them to stay home and whine that the winners will do nothing. I yearn to be surprised.

    July 24, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Vacationing in one of our beautiful national parks and loving it. I think we should have visitors fill out a questionnaire at the gate and if they support an anti-tax candidate, refuse them entry.

    July 24, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. Gunderson

    More Smoke and Mirrors? The Bleeding Heart Liberals are looking for any excuse to not send back a single illegal. So it is damned if you do and damned if you don't. The Administration has all the Authority it need to start deporting. Get with it.

    July 24, 2014 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. ja

    Congress has been in recess since President Obama's election in 2008, America should demand repayment of spent on Congresional salaries

    July 24, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  9. king

    All these hateful repub want to do is weakened our country's status in the world by letting this president seems powerless in the eyes of these countries he's visiting to ask for supports of the humanitarian crisis in our country. Tomorrow these same like minds Will be running around the corner shouting Obama is making our country look weak in the eyes of the world. Then they will appear on the other side shouting take all the power away from this dictator and render him weak for all the world to see. I am still waiting to see anything coming from the repubs with a tint of rationality. Naaaa

    July 24, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. Bryan

    Alarming that the President is out campaigning/fundraising dollars for Democrats than campaigning with both Democrats and Republicans there in Washington to solve the issue of flow of unaccompanied "kids" from Central America

    July 24, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  11. Longtimer

    Oh, don't worry. The nut jobs in the GOP would much rather spend their time suing the President for the audacity of trying to do something in the face of their irresponsible inaction. It really is a wonderful game they have: find something to whine about and demand action. They won't do anything, so when the President acts he's just some mean ol' dictator, then they sue.

    GOP=the ultimate clown show (no actual insult was meant or implied to real working clowns...)

    July 24, 2014 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  12. Tom l

    Totally agree. If this is truly the "humanitarian crisis" that they claim it to be then they should stay and figure this darn thing out

    July 24, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. S. B. Stein

    Neither the president nor the Congress is good at talking to each other. I think that the GOP in the House and Senate need to be more willing to compromise because they were the ones who didn't even want to do anything. They opposed Obama just for being him. I haven't seen anything to show why he shouldn't be talked to.

    July 24, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Congress needs a vacation .

    It's not easy doing nothing , and all the work the GOP did making Obama a one term president took it's toll on hard working men and woman such as Paul Ryan and Michele Bachmann .

    Some think it's not stressful doing nothing and being as the Bible says Sloth and impudent . Yet when you see the face of the speaker of the house , you know it must be painful .

    July 24, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  15. ge

    if there is no presser put on Mexico it will never be fixed ,is the American Government republican ,democrats afraid to take on mexico or do the rich have to much money tied up their

    July 24, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  16. Grow up already...

    How could this be alarming?!?! This is what the American people have come to EXPECT from this DO NOTHING Congress. They should all be in jail for fraud. They were elected to do a job and have done NOTHING!

    July 24, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  17. anthony78

    All you righties out there... if you try and call Obama a failure.. i'd love to hear what you think about this Republican congress...

    July 25, 2014 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  18. MMECitizen

    Maybe if O had stayed in DC and tried to come up with a compromise instead of high tailing off on fund raising events and golfing outings something might have been worked out. A CEO does not leave his company to let the employees, shareholders and directors "figure it out" He stays and works for the best possible solution. O is in charge of the biggest "corporation" in the world but O has absolutely no business sense or experience so I can see why he doesn't think he has to lead.

    July 25, 2014 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  19. Michael MN

    Typical I guess actually doing something doesn't rile up the base than being on Fox saying everything is Obamas fault

    July 25, 2014 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  20. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Actually it's not. It's the norm with this Congress.

    July 25, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  21. Tommy G

    Obama created this disaster with his illegal and unconstitutional use of his pen, so let him deal with it. Besides, it can't be that big a deal if he doesn't bother to go to the border when he was already in the area, but then goes on non-stop campaign fund raising trips. Just giving this incompetent a $4 billion dollar check would be totally irresponsible. None of it would be used to stop the illegals, it would all be used to encouraged more of them to storm the border. That is Obama's real goal.

    July 25, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  22. reggie53

    What about Obama? When will he stop with his fundraising activities and do his presidential work????? It is like "The Pot calling the Kettle Black". (not racial!!!) It is about time that he starts doing his job and stop travelling around the country fundraising for the democrats. Will he postpone his vacation as well? I m sure he will not...he has to set the example by staying in Washington and at last, DO HIS JOB.

    July 25, 2014 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  23. Ian's Rushtache

    Alarming, yes. Surprising, not so much.

    July 25, 2014 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Of course, the House is going to leave without acting on the border crisis. They need something to criticize Obama.

    July 25, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |