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VA fix, border Band-Aid put pressure on Congress

In this Thursday, July 24, 2014 photo, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehend men who crossed the Rio Grande River from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico in Anzalduas Park in McAllen, Texas.

In this Thursday, July 24, 2014 photo, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehend men who crossed the Rio Grande River from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico in Anzalduas Park in McAllen, Texas.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• VA fix, border Band-Aid put pressure on Congress
• Dems raise off exaggerated impeachment calls
• Hillary: I was ‘designated yeller’
• Power Play: Cassidy makes his case
• Who’s next, Donald Duck?

With one eye on the clock and the other on the priming the pump for the home stretch of this year’s midterm elections, Democratic and Republican lawmakers are scrambling. Both sides are vying to reap the maximum political benefit from what does and doesn’t get done in the next few days before Congress adjourns for a five-week recess. The pressure to repair the broken Veterans Affairs healthcare system exposed by scandal and to stem the continuing flood of immigrants across the southern border is immense. Over the next few days the action or perceived inaction in Washington on these fronts will have a huge impact on the summer debate and major consequences for candidates moving into November. As of today, the prospects of a deal on the VA are brighter, while the border crisis may well go unresolved. With President Obama’s approval ratings in the tank and the likelihood that Democrats will lose control of the Senate increasing, don’t be surprised if the blue team squelches a border deal and engages in heavy finger-pointing, complete with claims of Republican inaction.

VA a done deal? - Fox News: “The leaders of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees reached a tentative deal Sunday to improve veterans’ health care -- a potential solution to help fix such ongoing problems as delays for benefits and long waits for medical treatment concealed by secret lists. The tentative deal would also end speculation about whether Congress would indeed begin a five-week summer recess without a legislative solution amid widespread national outrage over problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The committee chairmen, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., worked through the weekend and have scheduled a press conference for Monday to talk about the tentative deal….The pair said in a joint statement that they had ‘made significant progress’ toward an agreement on legislation ‘to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.’… Sanders proposed a bill last week that would cost about $25 billion over three years. Miller’s proposal would approve $10 billion in emergency spending. Those proposals would have scaled back separate House- and Senate-passed bills after lawmakers in both parties expressed shock at price tags totaling more than $35 billion. The proposals would still allow veterans to go to private doctors if they face long waits for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics, or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA site.”

[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel will have the details of the compromise.]

Border deal stuck on Dems about face - Washington Examiner: “While the border bill has stalled, there is still a small chance for a deal by Thursday, which is the last day the House is in session until Sept. 8. Democrats and Republicans are at odds over a 2008 deportation law that is preventing the fast deportation of the thousands of child migrants who have come here from Central America. President Obama initially backed a move to change the law in order to speed deportation of Central American minors. Federal officials say 61,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the southern border into Texas since October. But under pressure from immigration rights groups, Obama has since backed down and Congressional Democrats now say they oppose changing the law, which currently requires the government provide immigration hearings for Central American youth, a process that can take years. This week, Democrats will have to decide whether a provision to change the 2008 law is a deal breaker, since Republicans in the House are unlikely to pass a border spending bill without it. Both White House officials and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hinted Democrats might give in on allowing a change to the provision… If Congress agrees to pass a spending bill, it will likely be smaller than Obama's $3.7 billion request.”

Scalise may stay until immigration plan passes - Incoming House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said he will stay in Washington until Congress agrees to an emergency spending plan for the border-immigration crisis, but declined to say whether he will cancel the lower chamber’s August recess. “I’m going to stay until it’s done,” said Scalise on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”

House Speaker John Boehner lays out the importance of pursuing the House lawsuit against President Obama for overstepping his executive authority while Congress continues to focus on “jobs and the economy.” In an op-ed for USAT, Boehner argues that this debates is “not about [the speaker] vs. President Obama. This is about future Congresses and future presidents. There is a conflict between the executive branch and the legislative branch of our government. It is the judiciary branch’s role to help resolve it,” Boehner continues. “I believe this path is the right one to defend our institution and preserve the Constitution, while continuing to focus on the American people’s top priority — helping our private sector create more American jobs.”

This weekend leading Democrats blasted their base with multiple emails fundraising off Republican calls to impeach President Obama. Washington Examiner’s Byron York calls this a “farcical twist” since Dems now are campaigning to encourage the GOP to do exactly what they are fundraising to stop. “The Democrats' impeachment fundraising extravaganza”: “In the past 48 hours, first lady Michelle Obama, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, White House spokesman Josh Earnest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and others have raised the specter of an Obama impeachment… There are some Republican backbenchers who would indeed like to impeach the president, just as there were (more senior and more organized) Democratic lawmakers who hoped to impeach George W. Bush after Democrats won control of Congress in the 2006 elections. Back then Pelosi, the new Speaker, said flatly, ‘Impeachment is off the table.’ Now, Boehner has said he ‘disagrees’ with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s call for impeachment, and many observers see his lawsuit against the president as an effort to placate GOP lawmakers while stopping far short of impeaching the president. But Boehner has not made a far-reaching, definitive statement comparable to declaring impeachment ‘off the table.’ He might now be driven to do so, making the Democrats’ impeachment fundraising festival appear even more ridiculous than it already does.”

The New Yorker delves into a 1993 Chicago murder case of Marshall Morgan and asks, “Did the Chicago police coerce witnesses into pinpointing the wrong man for murder?”: “[Convicted murder Tyrone Hood], could be up for parole in 2030... In 2009, Gayle Horn and another lawyer, Karl Leonard, filed a petition for post-conviction relief for Hood, arguing that the evidence against him had ‘unraveled,’ and that the officers involved had ‘a long history of similar misconduct.’ …The petition contained several components: the claim that [Morgan’s father’s] ‘pattern’ of murder pointed to Hood’s innocence; police misconduct; and constitutional violations related to the prosecution’s undisclosed payments to Jody Rogers’s brother. The judge, Neera Walsh, granted an evidentiary hearing about the payments, but dismissed the other components, calling the pattern of evidence against Morgan, Sr., ‘immaterial in nature,’ and rejecting the police-misconduct and innocence claims on procedural grounds. No date has been set for the payments hearing.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42 percent//Disapprove – 53.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 63.8 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43.2 percent// Republicans 41.3 percent

[Poll Watch: The latest Fox News polls on 2014 midterm election and 2016 presidential primary head to head match ups will be released during “Special Report with Bret Baier” in the 6 p.m. ET hour]

Hillary Clinton
claims she was the “designated yeller” when dealing with Israel as Secretary of State. In a not so veiled contrast to President Obama’s often strained relationship with the Israeli leader, the 2016 presidential Democratic frontrunner touted her “good relationship” with President Benjamin Netanyahu. “I’ve known Bibi [Netanyahu] a long time and I have a very good relationship with him in part because we can yell at each other,” Clinton told CNN Sunday. “And I was often the designated yeller. Something would happen, a new settlement announcement would come and I would call him up, what are you doing? You’ve got to stop this.”

Wait, What? - “I know how hard it is to be the leader of a relatively small country that is under constant pressure and does face a lot of legitimate threats to its existence from those around it.”

Hillary to speak to Wall Street big wigs - The Hill: “Hillary Clinton isn’t backing away from Wall Street. As cries from within her own party grow louder for the all-but-declared 2016 Democratic presidential candidate to distance herself from high finance’s titans, Clinton is continuing to address Wall Street audiences. This week she’ll speak at an Ameriprise Financial conference in Boston. She’s also been booked or given paid speeches at events sponsored by Fidelity, KKR and Co., the Carlyle Groups and Goldman Sachs. Supporters of Clinton argue there’s no need for her to change her schedule. They say her career is highlighted with support for liberals ideals, from raising the minimum wage to improving healthcare.”

O’Malley makes more Iowa ties – While 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is playing it coy, Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md.,  who’s made no secret he’s exploring a run, has been busy in the Hawkeye State. Radio Iowa: “O’Malley returned to Iowa this weekend to campaign with Iowa Democrats, building more ties with Iowa activists who could be key contacts if O’Malley decides to run for president in 2016… On Sunday, O’Malley was in western Iowa where he headlined two private fundraisers for Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, then he and Hatch spoke to Iowa Democratic Party volunteers headed out to go door-to-door in Sioux City to register voters. Despite recent world events, O’Malley said he senses the ‘primary anxiety’ among most voters all across the country is the economy… O’Malley, who hinted he’ll be back in Iowa before November’s election, headlined the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention in June and he served as the headliner at Senator Tom Harkin’s annual Steak Fry fundraiser in 2012.”

[Watch Fox: Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron will explore the 2016 political candidate field and dive into new Fox News Polls released at 6 p.m. ET today.]

Louisiana has consistently been among Fox News First’s “Pick Six,” where readers choose the six seats that could flip from Democrat to Republican in the fall and turn control of the Senate over to the GOP. Although Sen. Mary Landrieu’s, D-La., has name recognition, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., sits down with host Chris Stirewalt in the latest edition of “Power Play” to explains why he is the right candidate for the job. In a state that could see double digit ObamaCare premium hikes, how will Cassidy’s work as a doctor influence the race? Watch here to find out.

[NYT forecasts that the GOP has a 60% chance to take control of the Senate. See their state by state breakdown here.]

Pick Six - The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas (13.5%), Louisiana (11.9%), Montana (11.8%), West Virginia (11%), South Dakota (10.3%) and North Carolina (10%). Fox News First reader John Omwake from Virginia thinks there are a few states that could cash in November. “Georgia looks dicey after the bitter GOP runoff, so Republicans may have to look elsewhere for a pickup. North Carolina is not a sure thing, with the Libertarian candidate a possible spoiler. Likewise Louisiana, where the [Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.,] name is strong. Efforts to pick up Colorado and/or Michigan should be redoubled.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

The (Ashland, Ky.) Independent: “[Kentucky Senate hopeful] Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the ‘Big Dog’ in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.,] Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details. But given the efforts by the McConnell campaign to tie Grimes to the environmental policies of President Barack Obama, and the declining fortunes of the eastern Kentucky coal economy, it’s probably a safe bet the event will take place somewhere in the coal fields of southeastern Kentucky. It will be the second visit to Kentucky this year by Clinton on Grimes’ behalf, but probably not the last. Clinton is a close friend with Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan, and he has known Grimes since she was a teenager.”

[14th time the charm? – Paducah (Ky.) Tilghman High School invited McConnell and Grimes to debate the issues there, making this the Senate hopefuls’ 13th debate offer, reports The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal.]

Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., bashes Senate hopeful opponent Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant for her back and forth record on the administration’s restrictive coal regulations. Tennant released a new ad today attacking the White House on coal saying she will “stand up to leaders of both parties that threaten [West Virginian’s] way of life. Capito camp calls foul because of Tennant’s past. “[Tennant] defended [President Obama’s] War on Coal at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, she donated personally to his 2013 Inauguration and in return she is being propped up by Obama and his allies as they try to maintain control of the Senate and carry out their anti-coal crusade,” Capito for Senate spokesperson Amy Graham said in a statement. “Before running for Senate, Tennant never once challenged Obama and there’s no question the only message West Virginians can count on Natalie Tennant getting to Obama in the Senate is one of strong support for his liberal, anti-coal agenda.” Capito and Tennant are battling to succeed retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. in November.

WaPo: “[Virginia] Republican Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie called for making birth-control pills available without a prescription Saturday during a spirited debate with Sen. Mark R. Warner, [D-Va.,] a move intended to blunt Democrats’ claims that the GOP challenger would seek to ban common forms of contraception. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, made the remark after Warner (D) pointedly injected abortion and birth control into their 90-minute face-off, the first — and perhaps only — debate of the Senate race… Warner attempted to hammer Gillespie with the ‘war on women’ theme that Democrats have pushed successfully in recent election cycles in Virginia and across the country. … The rivals also sparred over the Affordable Care Act, the minimum wage and energy policy, while finding some common ground on foreign affairs. …Both candidates found ways to return again and again to broad personal attacks. For Gillespie, it was that Warner, a highly popular former governor and self-described ‘radical centrist,’ has moved to the left in the Senate and voted with [President Obama] 97 percent of the time. For Warner, it was that Gillespie is a ‘partisan warrior’ and former lobbyist whose clients included scandal-plagued energy giant Enron.”

Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel: “A political action committee founded by Andrew Miller, an arch conservative Nashville millionaire, spent more than $250,000 last week on media advertising that attacks U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and another $31,000 supporting Joe Carr, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. …The filings show Miller and his brother, Tracy Miller, have put $240,000 into the ‘Super PAC’ since April — $120,000 each. The bulk of the $250,910 spent attacking Alexander went to Jamestown Associated, a Princeton, N.J., political media firm known for handling ads against incumbent Republican congressmen. Copies of the ad had not been made available to media on Sunday.”

The Kansas City Star: “The U.S. Senate contest in Kansas between Pat Roberts and Milton Wolf has, mercifully, entered its final hours. ‘New questions to ask Milton Wolf,’ Roberts cornerman Leroy Towns taunted a few days ago. ‘Why did he fail to vote in 28 elections?’ Wolf spokesman Ben Hartman immediately responded — by demanding a debate.’(Roberts) can ask all the questions he wants. Name a place and time.’ It’s likely you missed this exchange….You’ll find it on Twitter….Wolf’s campaign says he writes his own tweets, Roberts suggests his — and their exchanges have been lively. But the real contest has been between spokesmen Towns (@dltowns) and Hartman (@bhartman87). The two have argued over Roberts’ residence, Wolf’s posting of patient X-rays, fundraising and spending, debates, even the outcome in the Mississippi GOP runoff for U.S. Senate. Towns has posted more than 4,000 times and Hartman roughly 2,500 since opening their accounts. These days, words like ‘whiner’ and ‘liar’ crop up frequently. Roberts’ campaign retweeted a post calling Wolf ‘a racist and a fool,’ a claim Hartman quickly called ‘race baiting’ — in a tweet.”

AP: “Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, his reputation already tarnished and his political future destroyed by a gifts-for-favors scandal, faces the possibility of an even greater loss when his trial on federal corruption charges begins [today]. The onetime rising Republican star and his wife, Maureen, could be sentenced to decades in prison if convicted of the charges in a 14-count indictment issued by a grand jury 10 days after McDonnell left office in January. They are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the founder of a dietary supplements company, in exchange for helping to promote his products.”

We know that if the president steps down, the vice president is in charge. But what about the succession of California’s governor?  This week it will be put to the test. Gov. Jerry Brown left for Mexico Sunday, leaving second in command Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in charge, according to the Sacramento Bee. But Newsom has plans of his own to leave the state Tuesday, so Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will step up to the plate. But wait! Steinberg has a trip of his own too on Wednesday promoting Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to the governor’s chair. Finally Brown will return home Wednesday afternoon stopping the chain at four democratic governors in the mansion this week.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.


Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.