Senate Democrat Floats Blowing Up August Recess over Border Crisis

by Joel Gehrke

Retiring senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) suggested that Senate Democrats might force House Republicans to return to the Capitol during the August recess in order to pass a border-crisis bill.

Harkin allowed that “we don’t have to have a supplemental exactly right now,” explaining that President Obama’s administration only needs some of the funding he requested before the end of the fiscal year.

“Are [House Republicans] going to vote and then go home?” Harkin told National Review Online Monday evening when asked what happens if the House votes on its border-crisis package on Thursday. “That puts us in a bit of a bind, it always does. But under the Constitution, the House has the right to pass a spending bill first and send it over here. If that’s what they do, well, we might not act on it. You know, we don’t have to have a supplemental exactly right now. Or, maybe we should stay in. Maybe we should pass a bill and send it to the House and, if they’ve gone home, maybe they’d have to come back.”

A Senate Republican aide doubts that Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) would do that with the midterm elections less than 100 days away.

“It’s possible,” the aide says. “I don’t think Reid wants to keep his members here, though, because they’ve got a lot of seats to defend.”

Harkin’s preferred solution is that House and Senate lawmakers hammer out a compromise between the Senate’s plan to provide $2.7 billion for the border crisis and the House bill’s plan to pass a bill that offers less than $1 billion and includes border-security policy changes.

“There’s always room for compromise,” Harkin said. “I would hope that the House and us would pre-conference it and work out our differences right now so that we don’t have the specter of the House passing it and then going home.”

Reid hasn’t shown any interest in such negotiations, though, according to another Senate Republican aide.

“There is no energy on that side to resolve this or to work with Republicans to resolve it,” the aide said earlier Monday. “I think what they’re doing is they’re sitting out, waiting, hoping, that the House doesn’t pass anything so that they can say that Republicans left town without doing anything on the border.”

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