The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.
To Influence the House, Try a Light Touch
When House Republicans head home for August recess in a few weeks, they'll be greeted by activists, constituents, ads and news stories pushing for immigration reform -- that is if the immigration reform advocates are successful.
Immigration reform supporters are hoping to convince House Republicans to continue the work the Senate started by passing legislation this fall. But advocates realize they must tread carefully, which is why they're not saying much about who they're targeting or what they're planning.
"People who want to get to yes, need space to get to yes," is how one pro-immigration reform lobbyist put it.
So it's no wonder that some on K Street were no fans of a push earlier this week by Sens. John McCain and Chuck Schumer to unleash a lobbying juggernaut this summer targeting House Republicans. A move that, not surprisingly, was also not welcomed by House Republicans.
If McCain, Schumer and their Gang of Eight colleagues want to influence the House, they might want to start by treading a little more lightly.
IN SURPRISE, UNSCRIPTED TALK, OBAMA REFLECTS ON ZIMMERMAN VERDICT. Using neither a teleprompter nor prepared remarks, President Obama appeared before reporters in the White House briefing room this afternoon to address the nation's reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict, The New York Times reports. "It's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that—that doesn't go away," Obama said, adding that those experiences inform how Trayvon Martin's death is interpreted. Obama's comments—during which he said his administration is examining policy options and questioned Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law—were his most extensive on the subject of race since his 2008 speech in Philadelphia as a presidential candidate. Read more
- While the president began by commending the judge in the Zimmerman case as "professional" and the jurors as "properly instructed," he brought the case into the much broader context of race in America, National Journal reports. Read more
WHO IS MAKING THE DECISIONS IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION? The 250 officials profiled this year for National Journal's Decision Makers project lead the most diverse administration yet: Fewer than half of the top posts are occupied by white men, but Harvard remains the most common undergraduate and graduate school. Meanwhile, National Journal's George Condon reports on administration vacancies that are scattered broadly across the Washington landscape. The result is an administration in its fifth year still trying to get the government up and running, still trying to steer the ship of state in the direction the president charted in his two campaigns, still trying to change a status quo nobody likes. Read more
- National Journal's Reena Flores lists 10 Hollywood bureaucrats we wish were real, including Treasury Secretary William Cleary (Wedding Crashers) and Environmental Protection Agency inspector Walter Peck (Ghostbusters). Read more
KERRY CONTINUES PUSH FOR MIDEAST PEACE TALKS. Secretary of State John Kerry said today that Israel and Palestinians will soon meet in Washington to finalize terms intended to renew peace negotiations for the first time in five years, the Associated Press reports. Kerry met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah earlier today as part of an ongoing effort to resume stalled talks in the region, and also reportedly spoke via phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two sides are working to agree on a starting point for negotiations concerning border disputes between a Palestinian state and Israel. The Arab League on Wednesday endorsed Kerry's proposal, leading some to believe Abbas will also be receptive. Read more
SENATE POISED TO VOTE ON STUDENT-LOAN MEASURE. Despite the possibility of some Democratic opposition, a deal brokered by senators to roll back interest rates on some student loans is poised to come to the Senate floor next week—and may also get a reasonable reception in the House, National Journal's Elahe Izadi and Michael Catalini report. The agreement, reached Wednesday evening and announced during a bipartisan news conference Thursday, puts the Senate closer to positions held in the House and by the president, and moves the chamber beyond two failed Democratic attempts to temporarily extend lower rates. A vote on the package is expected on Tuesday, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said. Read more
HOUSE GOP PASSES BILL TO REPLACE 'NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.' House Republicans passed legislation today designed to give state and local governments more autonomy on education matters while reducing federal oversight, the Associated Press reports. The bill, passed 221-207 with no Democrats supporting it, is meant to replace the controversial 2002 No Child Left Behind law that expired in 2007. It would eliminate NCLB's testing and teacher evaluation systems and give states and local school districts more ownership over measuring student learning and progress. "This legislation will restore local control, empower parents, eliminate unnecessary Washington red tape and intrusion in schools and support innovation and excellence in the classroom," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn. Read more
RUSSIA UNAWARE OF SNOWDEN PLANS FOR CITIZENSHIP. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Putin's government is not privy to any plans former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden might have to pursue Russian citizenship, Reuters reports. "Citizenship? This is the first I've heard of it. It's news to me," the spokesman said. Snowden, who remained marooned in a Moscow airport transit zone, filed for temporary asylum in Russia this week, according to a Russian lawyer who is assisting the fugitive wanted for leaking top-secret information about NSA surveillance programs. Also today, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced a resolution asking Russia to hand over Snowden to the United States. Read more
- Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of both the NSA and CIA, writes in a CNNop-ed that Snowden's "betrayal" of government puts him "in a class by himself" in a national history filled with spies and leakers. Read more
WHITE HOUSE STILL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HEALTH CARE ROLL-OUT. Despite the fact that only half of governors signed their states up for Medicaid expansion so far and the delay of the implementation of the health care law's employer mandate, the White House remains optimistic that state insurance exchanges will be successful, The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta reports. But even if 2.7 million young people and 7 million overall enroll in the health exchanges, as predicted, tens of millions will still be left uninsured going into the second year of the law's roll-out. Though the White House is confident the law will become more popular as more people benefit from it, the pace at which people sign up may be too slow to change public opinion any time soon. Read more
THOUSANDS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF MORSI. Protesters calling for the reinstatement of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi held demonstrations in Cairo today, the Associated Press reports. The activists responsible for sparking the protests that resulted in Morsi's removal from power planned a demonstration in Tahrir Square to coincide with the Islamist protests, raising anew the fear of violence in the Egyptian capital. Police and military troops were deployed around government buildings in Cairo to deter protesters from becoming violent. Small incidents of violence have been reported but the greater violence of the past few days has been avoided thus far. Read more
IMMIGRATION BACKERS PREPARE TO PUSH HOUSE. With the August recess fast approaching, backers of comprehensive immigration reform are readying targeted campaigns and large-scale rallies to keep the legislation alive during the break, the Associated Press reports. Senators distributed a list of 121 "persuadable" House Republicans to various pro-immigration organizations earlier this week so that campaigns could be built for specific congressional districts. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, hoped for House action on immigration before the recess but refuses to consider the comprehensive Senate bill that was passed last month, favoring a piecemeal approach to reform. Read more
TERRORISTS AIMING FOR BLOODY FINAL FIGHT WITH U.S. TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN. The Taliban and other terrorist networks are plotting to engage U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan with a bloody fighting season ahead of the Obama administration's 2014 troop withdrawal deadline, The Hill reports. Foreign insurgents like the Pakistan-based terror group Haqqani Network plan to send fighters into Afghanistan. "The madrassas are emptying" in Pakistan, said Lt. Col. David Hamann. Pakistani militants are reportedly ordering every family to send all fighting-age males into Afghanistan in an effort to inflict as much damage on U.S. forces as possible before they leave. The White House is still deciding whether to leave any troops behind after 2014. Read more
JUDGE REJECTS DETROIT BANKRUPTCY FILING. Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on Friday ordered Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr to withdraw the bankruptcy petition he filed Thursday on the city's behalf, Reuters reports. Aquilina challenged the constitutionality of the state law which empowered Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to approve the bankruptcy filing. Detroit on Thursday became the largest city in U.S. history ever to file for bankruptcy. The Chapter 9 filing – caused principally by steep population decline and a falling tax base and seen by many as an inevitability decades in the making – would allow for liquidation of city assets and could prompt reduction of city services, higher taxes and hundreds of millions in legal and financial fees. President Obama and his senior advisors are watching the city's economic situation." Read more
- Detroit residents are most scared of the uncertainty of what will happen next to their city, but many see the bankruptcy as a chance for a fresh start, The Atlantic Wire's Dashiell Bennett reports. Read more
Here are the highlights of this Sunday's political shows. Lineups are subject to change, so please consult network websites for details.
- House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will appear on CBS's Face the Nation.
- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will weigh in on immigration reform, foreign affairs, and the battle over the filibuster in an appearance on CNN's State of the Union.
- Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, Steve King, R-Iowa, and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, will discuss the Affordable Care Act and the future of immigration reform on NBC's Meet the Press.
- ABC's This Week will travel to Iowa with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and discuss the Syrian conflict and the Edward Snowden case with Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
- Fox News Sunday will feature Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
"I think of the Republican Party today as a family, but the family is like the Borgias." —Obama former senior advisor David Axelrod (Morning Joe)
THIS AMERICAN LIFE? The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran chronicles the American lives of Iraqis that worked for The Post's Baghdad bureau. Kareem Sadoon, who was a driver for the late New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid, was prescribed sleeping pills for his nightmares and antidepressants; he lives off government assistance in Beaverton, Ore. "My body is here," said Sadoon, who left his wife and children behind, "but my mind is still in Iraq." Another, Omar Fekeiki, who worked as an interpreter and correspondent, became an American citizen last month. And then there is Omar Asaad, one of the first at the bureau to seek a U.S. refugee visa. He and his family, who have received death threats because of his work, are stuck in Iraq under "security review." Read more
A NUMBERS GAME. With 13,789 pages—totaling more than 15 million words—written by regulators to help implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the regulations could fill 28 copies of Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace, according a graphic by law firm Davis Polk, The Hill reports. In total, the firm found 42 words of regulation for every one word of law, with the longest final rule hitting 313 pages. Read more
CHART OF THE DAY
PORTRAIT OF THE SYRIAN CONFLICT. Al Jazeera offers an interactive feature mapping the fronts in the Syrian conflict and identifying the political and military groups seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. See it here