Quick Takes on the News: Homeland Security Bill Lets Some in, Keeps Some Out

Supporters of critically ill baby Charlie Gard in London on July 14
AP Photo/Matt Dunham
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July 19, 2017, 8 p.m.

"Private bills" don't usually pass. Will Charlie Gard's amendment?

A central component of the controversial Homeland Security spending bill is its funding for a border wall that would keep would-be foreign migrants out of the United States. But a recent amendment to the bill would actually welcome a foreign family from Britain by granting permanent residency status to terminally ill child Charlie Gard and his parents. Gard was born with a rare disease, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. He is currently on life support and in the center of a global ethical debate.

Congress regularly deals with immigration and residency legislation, and in every session members introduce bills to allow individuals to bypass immigration restrictions. Those “private bills” rarely go anywhere; in the past decade, only three have passed. The most recent was in 2012 for a Nigerian immigrant with a desire to go to medical school.

The Gards don’t have a private bill, but the amendment will have the same affect if it is passed. A vote on the funding bill is scheduled for next week.
—Maren McInnes

Dem lawmakers say party can't talk down to conservatives

“There’s no in-between anymore,” said Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Wednesday. No doubt that wasn’t music to the ears of his hosts, Third Way, the centrist organization that’s all about the “in-between.” Manchin appeared with Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Suzan DelBene for a discussion about how Democrats can expand their base. It was long on platitudes but short on 2018 specifics. Cleaver lamented that Democrats often “talk down” to them, while DelBene said her rural constituents often have more in common with Democrats than first assumed.

Manchin complimented the GOP on its “methodical” candidate-recruitment strategy, and said he wanted Democrats running in unfriendly territory to “know your state and know your demographics” and stress independence from the establishment.

Cleaver stressed that he hoped Blue Dogs would help Democrats retake the House majority, saying, “I don’t care the color of the dog if it’s friendly.”

So what should the message be for 2018? Considering Democratic leadership doesn’t know yet, the panelists relied on the tried-and-true formula of compassion and fiscal prudence. “Most Americans want to help,” Cleaver said. “They just don’t want to waste their money.”
—Alex Clearfield

Sen. Joe Manchin AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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