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Remarks by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the 105th NAACP Annual Convention

Remarks as delivered


Thank you Hilary for that wonderful introduction and for your steadfast advocacy on behalf of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.

The NAACP is fortunate to have you as their voice of truth to policy makers and the Administration.

To Chairman Brock, your exemplary stewardship has ensured that the NAACP doesn't just survive, but thrives as the leading civil rights and social justice organization in the 21st century; and to President Brooks  – congratulations!  I know you will lead this organization through the next era of civic engagement and activism that our country still so desperately needs.

I look forward to working with you as you take up the mantel to lead the next chapter in the NAACP's history.

And I can't think of a better person for you to have received the gavel from than my good friend Lorraine Miller.

Lorraine is not just a friend and fellow DNC Member, she wears many hats.  She's been a trusted adviser to me and many others throughout the years.

She brought her same work ethic, dignity and grace to the role of Interim President of the NAACP as she did to the role of Clerk of the U. S. House of Representatives, and she is one of the most selfless public servants I know.

Thank you Lorraine for your leadership and service.

And finally, while I'm delighted to be here in Las Vegas with all of you and NAACP Las Vegas Branch President Frank Hawkins, and Tri State Conference President of Idaho, Nevada and Utah Jeanetta Williams, you are both wonderful hosts - there's no place like home, so I would like to recognize the President of my home state conference – Florida and Miami-Dade Branch NAACP President Adora Obi Nweze, National Vice Chair Leon Russell and all the leadership and members from the great state of Florida.

As a card-carrying member of the NAACP West Hollywood chapter, I was proud to join all of you last summer in Orlando as we Stood Our Ground and reaffirmed our collective commitment to justice and equality.

So, I'm pleased that this year's conference theme is All in For Justice and Equality.

That's a helpful frame to look at the contrasts between the Democratic and Republican parties, particularly with the upcoming November election.

I think the question every NAACP Member, every voter and every American must pose to its leaders is "Are you all in?"

The Republican Party has chosen to promote and work for the privileged few while Democrats work to expand opportunity, justice and equality for all.

This couldn't be more telling than on the economic front where Democrats have time and again offered policies to help everyone reach that next rung of the economic ladder, while Republicans have dug in their heels and just said no.

As you all know, this year, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During Freedom Summer, hundreds of young volunteers descended on Mississippi with the goal of registering African-Americans to vote.

Participants faced opposition and violence, including the murder of three activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi. But they persisted because they knew that none of our civil rights is more fundamental to American democracy than the right to vote - they were all in!

Half a century later, we are still fighting to ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their right to vote.

A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key component of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since then, the haste at which states have moved to enact voting restrictions is confirmation that the protections put in place by Section 4 are still necessary. It will require Congressional action to restore these protections.  So ask yourself, is your Senator and Member of Congress ‘all in’?

If not, and they’re up for reelection, it’s time for them to be all out!
Recently, Republicans have made a concerted effort to suppress the vote. This decision is based on a narrow, short-term political calculation that Republicans can win elections by shrinking the size of the electorate.

In the meantime, Democrats are committed to ensuring that every eligible voter can register to vote, every registered voter can vote, and every vote cast is counted.

So, let’s be clear NAACP, as a Member of Congress, as Chair of the Democratic National Committee, as a parent raising the next generation, as a voter and as an American, I am all in for justice and equality!

To his credit, I know that Michael Steele has criticized Republicans’ voter suppression efforts like voter ID laws, but we need more Republicans who say something and   stand up against their party.

Voter ID has been put forward as a solution to the virtually non-existent problem of voter impersonation. It disproportionately hurts women, young people, seniors and the African American community.

Even Rand Paul acknowledged to the New York Times that their voter ID push was offending people, but then went on Fox News and admitted that he was still in favor of voter ID laws. That's certainly not a sign that he's all in!

Eliminating same day registration or cutting early voting days and hours and eliminating early voting on the Sunday before Election Day when African American churches have had historical success with their “Souls to the Polls” programs. These are all voter suppression tactics to keep some of us from voting.

Just like the leaders of the Freedom Summer, who fifty years ago knew how important it was to register as many new voters as possible. At the DNC, we’re using our technology and data advantage of today to help campaigns and allies deploy their limited resources more efficiently to maximize voter registration efforts.

One new component is a data set that will help identify where we need to commit our resources in order to change electoral outcomes.

In other words, to turn red seats blue through registration and turnout of eligible voters who aren’t registered but should be.

For example, in one of my two home counties, Miami-Dade County, 90,000 eligible African Americans aren’t registered to vote. That’s why President Nweze is conducting a Freedom Summer down in South Florida to get them registered. And the DNC is ready to help!

We will estimate how many potential new Democrats need to register, how many net votes would be produced by registering new voters, and how difficult it will be to find potential voters in an area.

In practice, this data will help us know where to direct canvassing and voter registration drives to target the highest density of unregistered voters, and how many of our resources to commit in order to influence an electoral result.

The DNC is committed to the policies and issues that are important to the African American community.

Not only are we all in for justice and equality at the DNC, diversity and inclusion are fundamental values for our party and they shape everything from our platform to our tactics.

In 2012, I worked closely with the Democratic Convention Committee, CBC, CHC, CAPAC and other stakeholders to improve our diverse hiring practices.

As a result, for the very first time, we set a goal and exceeded it, that one-third of all convention expenditures went to firms owned by people of color.

Half of all convention expenditures were awarded to firms owned by people from diverse backgrounds, including people of color, women, veterans and the LGBT community.

There are 66 total executive committee members of the DNC, comprised of our national officers, representatives from allied groups/other Dem committees, caucus chairs, sub-committee chairs, and regional representatives.

  • 54% of the Executive Committee are women.
  • 43% of the Executive Committee are people of color.
  • 24% of the Executive Committee are African American.
  • 15% of the Executive Committee are Latino.

We also have the most diverse senior staff of any committee between the two Parties. The heads of the Chair’s office, Communications, Political, Voter Expansion, Party Affairs, Community Engagement and Secretary’s Office departments are all African American or Latino.

We know that it is not enough to just hire a few extra people of color and call that commitment. It is our policies that speak the loudest about our commitment. From the highest reaches of our decision making, the President of the United States, our Executive Committee members, our most senior staff, and with whom the DNC does business. Our commitment to diversity speaks volumes.

We believe the most effective way to ensure that we can advance this agenda is to make our voices heard at the ballot box in November and expand those voices into a chorus that will make a difference in who is representing us in Washington and our state capitals.

Thank you.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on President Obama’s LGBT Executive Order

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement in response to President Obama signing an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity:

“The Executive Order signed by President Obama today is an important victory for the LGBT community, and adds to their list of accomplishments under the Obama administration. As the President has said, ‘in the United States, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.’

“The Democratic Party remains committed to extending these protections to all Americans, without exceptions. This will require Congressional action, and the time is long past due for our Republican colleagues to join us.”

DNC, DSCC, and the Colorado Democratic Party Announce Voter Expansion Director in Colorado

Washington - Today the DNC, DSCC and the Colorado Democratic Party announced the hiring of Mike Weissman as Colorado Voter Expansion Project State Director.

Weissman joins a growing roster of Voter Expansion Project staff in key states as part of the DNC's ongoing commitment to increasing access to electoral participation.
“As Colorado Republicans try to limit our access to the polls, Democrats are fighting to expand the vote and increase access,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Our team is building a professional and permanent, in-house operation that will remain in place from cycle to cycle for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. We are happy to welcome Mike to the operation.”

"Last year, the Colorado General Assembly approved the broadest modernization of our election laws in many years," said Rick Palacio, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. "A bipartisan group of county clerks - Colorado's election administrators - supported these changes.  In 2014 it will be easier for Coloradans to register to vote and to cast a ballot than ever before."
Weissman is a graduate of the University of Colorado law school and a member of the Colorado bar.  He has worked and volunteered in Colorado Democratic politics since 2004 including six years as Technology Director and Political Director for the Colorado Democratic Party.
"Colorado has some of the most pro-voter election laws in the country, and I look forward to helping make sure that Coloradans can exercise their rights under these laws this November," said Weissman.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Senate GOP Blocking Not My Boss’ Business Act

Washington, DC – After Senate Republicans rejected the Not My Boss’ Business Act, a bill to combat the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:

“It is shameful that Senate Republicans have blocked the Not My Boss’ Business Act that would have combatted the Supreme Court’s misguided decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. This bill would have prevented companies from discriminating against their women employees by forcing them to pay out of pocket for contraception, a basic preventive health care service.

“Today’s vote is another example of the clear contrast between the priorities of Republicans and Democrats. Republicans voted today to take money out of the pockets of women workers, hurting their ability to provide for their family and to access essential health services. The Democratic Party is committed to expanding economic opportunity for all, and ensuring that a woman’s health decisions are made by her and her doctor, not her boss.”

DNC announces Florida hire for Voter Expansion Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Democratic National Committee’s Voter Expansion Project, Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz today announced the hiring of Zach Learner as Florida State Director to be based in Tallahassee.

“My home state has had our share of intentional and unintentional challenges in past election cycles, but the DNC is ready to help all Floridians have a hassle-free voting experience this year and beyond,” said Wasserman Schultz. “With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts like Zach that no other organization can bring to bear. Our innovative Voter Expansion Project enables the DNC to help more eligible voters register to vote and will make casting a ballot easier for all Floridians.”

As the DNC and Democrats around the country – including Vice President Joe Biden– seek to expand access to voting, Republicans continue their cynical attempt to make it more difficult for people to vote. In Florida, attempts to purge voters from the rolls too close to the 2012 election was found to violate federal law.

“As Republicans continue to impede our right to vote, limit our access to the polls, making it more difficult to cast our ballot, Democrats are fighting to expand the vote and increase access,” said Pratt Wiley, National Director of Voter Expansion at the DNC. “Our team is building a professional and permanent, in-house operation that will remain in place from cycle to cycle for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. We are happy to welcome Zach to the operation.”

Learner is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law and a member of the Florida Bar. He worked on the Voter Protection team for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns in Florida, and most recently served as Chief of Staff to Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. Learner previously worked for State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, and in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida while in law school.

“I am proud to join the Democratic National Committee's Voter Expansion Project,” said Learner. “Voting is where our democracy begins and it is our fundamental right. We will work to ensure that all eligible Floridians are able to register to vote, cast a ballot and have their voices heard.”

The Voter Expansion Project was announced in a video by former President Bill Clinton to DNC supporters earlier this year. This project helps ensure the Democratic Party not only protects the right to vote, but also works proactively with states across the country to expand access to the ballot box.

DNC Response to Boehner’s Comments Blaming the President for the Border Crisis

Washington, D.C. – The following is a reaction from DNC Director of Hispanic Media, Pili Tobar to Speaker Boehner’s comments blaming the President for the border crisis:

“It’s laughable that Speaker Boehner is trying to blame the President for this crisis, when in the 3 ½ years that Boehner has been Speaker, Republicans haven’t passed one serious piece of legislation to address immigration, leaving President Obama no option but to deal with these important issues on his own. The President asked Congress for $3.7 billion dollars in supplemental funding to deal with this crisis, and rather than point fingers, Speaker Boehner should immediately hold a vote to approve necessary resources for border enforcement and to provide essential services to these unaccompanied kids. The truth is, if Republicans would have done their job and passed a bill, we’d be better equipped to deal with this crisis.”

DNC Chair Statement on Confirmation of Castro as Secretary of Dept. of Housing & Urban Development

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement today on the confirmation of Julian Castro as Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

“I would like to congratulate Julian Castro on his confirmation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As the mayor of San Antonio, Julian demonstrated his leadership and commitment to ensuring expanded opportunities for all. Castro helped revitalize San Antonio by attracting new businesses and investing in education to prepare the next generation of workers for the jobs of tomorrow. His experience will help him forward HUD’s mission of strengthening our communities and bringing the dream of home ownership within the reach of more Americans.

“With the Senate’s confirmation of Secretary Castro, the Obama administration adds another cabinet member who will be a powerful advocate for the Latino community and all Americans and demonstrates the President’s commitment to building an administration that reflects the value of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

“On behalf of Democrats, I would also like to thank outgoing Secretary Shaun Donovan for more than five years of dedicated service. Under Secretary Donovan, HUD has helped stabilize the housing market in the wake of the economic crisis and prioritized keeping working families in their homes.”

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Independence Day

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement today celebrating Independence Day:

“On July 4th, we celebrate our country’s founding, the brave men and women on whose backs this nation was built, and the fundamental principles which have guided our history. In declaring independence, our Founding Fathers asserted that government exists to secure our unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For 238 years, Americans have struggled to define these principles, expand their application, and live up to their potential.

“The United States of America has made extraordinary progress expanding our rights and privileges to more members of society. Our nation has been strengthened by the fight for inclusion of women, minorities, immigrants, the LGBT community, and others. But our work is unfinished; from paycheck fairness, to marriage equality, to access to quality, affordable health care, to ensuring that all Americans can exercise their right to vote, we continue to be driven by the idea that as Americans, we can do better.

“As we gather with family and friends to celebrate today, we remember that America exists because of those who are willing to defend our freedoms, and because of those who have had the courage to speak up for our ideals. On this great American holiday, I wish everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July.”

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement today on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act:

“Freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – it is a concept that seems inherent to a nation founded by declaring that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

“But it wasn’t until fifty years ago, with President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that this thoroughly American ideal came closer to reality when it was codified into law.

“Today’s anniversary of the Civil Rights Act is a reminder that equal protection under the law has not been self-evident, but instead a struggle for which each generation has had to fight. The civil rights leaders of the 1950s and 60s, including those who participated in Freedom Summer fifty years ago, endured unthinkable adversity for having the courage to seek the rights with which each of us is endowed. Each subsequent victory over the last five decades is a byproduct of their hardships, and for that we are eternally grateful.

“It is because of their success that today’s anniversary is less a celebration than a call to action.  The Democratic Party is committed to ensuring the creation of a more perfect union by extending rights to those who are still excluded.

“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed in the spirit of the Civil Rights Act, but Congressional action is required to restore the protections negated by last year’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. And despite President Obama’s recent executive action announcement, many American workers still lack protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.

“President Johnson made the case for passage of the Civil Rights Act by invoking his predecessor, “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long." Today, the Democratic Party believes there is no more fitting way to honor those who helped pass the Civil Rights Act than by extending its promise to all Americans.”

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Harris v Quinn

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Harris v Quinn:

“I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Harris v. Quinn. Many of the basic workplace standards and protections that we take for granted as Americans are thanks to the efforts of organized labor. These benefits have been sought and achieved on behalf of all workers, regardless of whether or not they’ve paid union dues. I fear that this decision will seriously diminish the capacity of labor unions to represent the best interests of American workers who have fought for and won significant progress on wages, benefits and working conditions, and jeopardize the progress that has been made over the last century.”


WHITE HOUSE VIDEO MESSAGE: Embracing Economic Patriotism


Office of the Press Secretary

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:00 AM ET, SATURDAY, July 26, 2014

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO MESSAGE: Embracing Economic Patriotism

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s message, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz highlighted the progress our economy has made since September 2008, but also discussed the small but growing group of big corporations that are fleeing the country to avoid paying taxes, even as corporate profits are as high as ever. The best way to level the playing field, as the President’s budget earlier this year proposed, is through tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, and simplifies the tax code for everybody.

The audio of the address and video of the message will be available online HERE.  

Remarks of Cecilia Muñoz

Spanish Weekly Address

The White House

July 26, 2014

Hi, everybody.  Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008 – the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years. 

But there’s another trend that threatens to undermine the progress you’ve helped make.  Even as corporate profits are as high as ever, a small but growing group of big corporations are fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes.  They’re keeping their headquarters, and most of their business, inside the United States, but they’re basically renouncing their citizenship and declaring that they’re based somewhere else, just to avoid paying their fair share. 

I want to be clear: this is only a few big corporations so far.  The vast majority of American businesses play by the rules.  But these companies cherrypick their taxes.  It damages the country’s finances. 

The best way to level the playing field is through tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, and simplifies the tax code for everybody.  In the President’s budget earlier this year, he proposed closing this unpatriotic tax loophole for good. 

Together, we can build up our middle class, hand down something better to our kids, and restore the American Dream for all who work and study and strive for it. 

Thanks, and have a great weekend. 


Weekly Address: Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President continued his call for our nation to rally around an economic patriotism that says rather than protecting wasteful tax loopholes for a few at the top, we should be investing in things like education and job training that grow the economy for everybody.  The President highlighted the need to close one of the most unfair tax loopholes that allows companies to avoid paying taxes here at home by shifting their residence for tax purposes out of the country. The President has put forth a budget that does just that, and he has called for business tax reform that makes investment in the United States attractive, and creates incentives for companies to invest and create jobs here at home. And while he will continue to make the case for tax reform, the President is calling on Congress to take action and close this loophole now.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at at 6:00 a.m. ET, July 26, 2014.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
July 26, 2014

Hi, everybody.  Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008 – the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years.  401(k)s are growing, fewer homes are underwater, and for the first time in more than a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that the world’s number one place to invest isn’t China; it’s the United States of America – and our lead is growing.

None of this is an accident.  It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people that our country has recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced nation on Earth.

But there’s another trend that threatens to undermine the progress you’ve helped make.  Even as corporate profits are as high as ever, a small but growing group of big corporations are fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes.  They’re keeping most of their business inside the United States, but they’re basically renouncing their citizenship and declaring that they’re based somewhere else, just to avoid paying their fair share.

I want to be clear: this is only a few big corporations so far.  The vast majority of American businesses pay their taxes right here in the United States.  But when some companies cherrypick their taxes, it damages the country’s finances.  It adds to the deficit.  It makes it harder to invest in the things that will keep America strong, and it sticks you with the tab for what they stash offshore.  Right now, a loophole in our tax laws makes this totally legal – and I think that’s totally wrong.  You don’t get to pick which rules you play by, or which tax rate you pay, and neither should these companies. 

The best way to level the playing field is through tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, and simplifies the tax code for everybody.  But stopping companies from renouncing their citizenship just to get out of paying their fair share of taxes is something that cannot wait.  That’s why, in my budget earlier this year, I proposed closing this unpatriotic tax loophole for good.  Democrats in Congress have advanced proposals that would do the same thing.  A couple Republicans have indicated they want to address this too, and I hope more join us. 

Rather than double-down on the top-down economics that let a fortunate few play by their own rules, let’s embrace an economic patriotism that says we rise or fall together, as one nation, and as one people.  Let’s reward the hard work of ordinary Americans who play by the rules.  Together, we can build up our middle class, hand down something better to our kids, and restore the American Dream for all who work for it and study for it and strive for it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 07/25/14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:17 P.M. EDT

MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  It’s nice to see you all on this glorious Friday afternoon.  If ever there was a day to do the White House briefing outside, today would be it. 

Q    Rose Garden?

MR. EARNEST:  Maybe we’ll just do this quickly and we can all go outside afterwards.

Q    You got some discretionary authority. (Laughter.)

MR. EARNEST:  It doesn’t require an act of Congress, right?

Q    Plus, it’s freezing in here.

MR. EARNEST:  It is.  I don’t know why that’s always the case. 

I’m going to do a couple of things at the top, and then we’ll move to your questions.  It is a beautiful day and it is a Friday here at the White House, but me and so many other of my White House colleagues are a little wistful today.  It is the final day of service of a couple of my long-serving White House colleagues, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge their service.

The first is -- many of you know Dag Vega, our Director of Broadcast Media, is -- today is his last day at the White House.  He’s somebody who has served with the President since the early days of his presidential campaign.  I know he’s a fan favorite with many of you.  I hear there’s a profile of him on Univision that’s coming soon -- at the risk of plugging one media outlet in front of a bunch of others. 

But Dag has served the President for a long time, and really -- he has the kind of Rolodex relationship that’s very rare and very valuable.  And we are going to miss him, but certainly wish him well as he pursues some endeavors in the private sector.

Q    So do we talk to him directly -- (laughter). 

MR. EARNEST:  Good question.  (Laughter.)  I also want to acknowledge Matt Lehrich, who’s sitting on the side today.  Matt has been a spokesperson for the President since early 2007.  Matt started on the President’s campaign in New Hampshire.  Matt and I first had the opportunity to meet in South Carolina in early 2008 on the President’s primary campaign down there.  And everywhere that I’ve gone since then, I’ve wanted to have Matt come work alongside wherever I was.  So Matt has been a very loyal advocate for the President, and we’re going to miss him being around here on a regular basis, too.

So with that, let me move to one other piece of presidential business and we’ll open it up to your questions.

Earlier today, the President spoke with Afghan presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, to thank them for their leadership in reaching an agreement to form a national unity government and to accept the outcome of the full audit of the ballots in the June 14th runoff election currently being undertaken by the election commissions. 

He commended the two candidates for putting the interests of Afghanistan first and committing to working together as partners in governance.  Noting that the audit is steadily progressing, the President encouraged both candidates to publicly endorse their previously agreed political framework and continue their dialogue on the details of its implementation to ensure the Afghan people have full confidence in the ongoing electoral process and outcome.

He reiterated that there is no justification for rhetoric that threatens extra-constitutional measures and urged Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ghani to continue to move forward in the spirit of collegiality to maintain national unity during this historic democratic transition.

The President indicated that Secretary Kerry would continue his close consultations with the two candidates and President Karzai in the days to come.  The President also reaffirmed the enduring American commitment to the Afghan people and their future.

So with that, Darlene, do you want to get us started?

Q    Sure, thank you.  Josh, do you have anything to add to reports that a one-week cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians is going to be announced later this afternoon?

MR. EARNEST:  I’m not able to confirm those reports at this point.  As you know, the President sent Secretary Kerry to the region earlier this week with one specific goal, which was to bring about an end to the violence as soon as possible. 

So Secretary Kerry has been very deeply engaged in those efforts.  He has traveled -- he has been in Cairo.  I know that he also traveled to Jerusalem, I believe, this week as well.  He’s been in contact with U.N. officials, with officials at the Arab League, with officials and his counterparts in Qatar and Jordan and Turkey, as well as dealing with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. 

So he’s been deeply engaged in these conversations.  It’s a pretty dynamic situation, so I wouldn’t want to get ahead of any announcements that they’re preparing to make.  I know that many of these details are also being very carefully negotiated, so I wouldn’t want to interfere in those negotiations even inadvertently.

So Secretary Kerry has been very hard at work this week in pursuit of a very important goal, which is bringing an end to that violence as soon as possible.  And if there are any announcements to any progress that’s made in that effort, I’ll let them announce that out there.

Q    Would the White House like to see a pause in the fighting of one week, or longer?  Or is one week all that you can get under the circumstances?

MR. EARNEST:  Our priority is trying to bring cessation to the violence as soon as possible; that every hour in which this violence continues there are innocent civilians on both sides of that border who are at risk.  And that is something that we are quite concerned about. 

This ongoing violence has had tragic circumstances -- or tragic consequences, I should say, for innocent civilians on both sides of the border.  We mourn the loss of innocent civilians on both sides.  And we are hopeful that international efforts to bring about a cease-fire as soon as possible will be successful.

Q    On the meeting that he’s having in a little while with the Presidents from Central America, what is it that he will specifically ask them to do to stem the flow of unaccompanied children across the border?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, this is part of a -- today’s meeting is part of a whole-of-government approach that this administration has pursued to deal with the urgent humanitarian situation at the southwest border.  Over the course of this summer, there has been a steady influx of unaccompanied children who have been apprehended along the border. 

As I mentioned I believe a week or so ago, the early trends for the month of July indicated that that flow was starting to recede a little bit.  But our efforts continue.  And one important part of our effort has been trying to stem the flow at the source, and that has meant that this administration, primarily through CBP but also through the State Department, has been engaged in a public messaging campaign in Honduras, in Guatemala and El Salvador.  That campaign has been focused on making it clear to the populations of those countries that they should not send their children on that very dangerous journey to the southwest border.  That messaging has also made clear that even if against long odds those children are able to safely make that journey, they will not automatically be welcomed with open arms in this country.  And that is an important part of our effort, and the President will certainly talk with those Presidents about that ongoing effort.

Another thing that we have done in coordination with those countries is try to establish an efficient way to facilitate the repatriation of individuals who have been apprehended in this country.  We have demonstrated our commitment to enforcing the law, and also ensuring that those individuals get the due process to which they're entitled.  So there have already been, as you all have reported, flights sponsored by the U.S. government to repatriate some individuals back to their home countries.  Those repatriation efforts are ongoing, and they are done in conjunction with local efforts as well.

After all, we don't want to be in a position where we are repatriating individuals back into a violent situation.  We want to try to find a way that we can meet the humanitarian needs of these individuals.  And working with host governments to establish repatriation centers is an important step in that process.

Q    Will he be offering them any money --

MR. EARNEST:  Well, there have been some programs that the State Department has announced that have been instrumental in this effort.  There are already some ongoing and critically important law enforcement operations and programs that beef up citizen security efforts in these countries.  Many of the individuals who are pursuing this journey are fleeing pretty desperate situations, and the desperation that they are feeling is fueled by violence in their communities.

So using United States law enforcement programs and resources to try to improve security in those communities is part of this effort.  There are also a number of development programs through USAID that can be useful in improving the economic circumstances, or even just the living conditions of individuals in these countries.  So there are some existing programs and some programs that over the last several weeks have been enhanced to try to address some of the root causes of this illegal migration that we’ve seen this summer.


Q    Josh, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO said just before you came up here that more than 15,000 Russian troops are now on the Ukrainian border.  And earlier today the Pentagon said that Russia appears to be set to transfer more rockets to the separatists, possibly as early as today.  I’m just wondering if you have any reaction from the podium about this latest development.  And secondly, whether the White House is getting more worried that the sanctions regime to this point isn’t having the intended effect of getting Russia to deescalate.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we have been saying for a few months now, Roberta, that we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons and materiel from the Russian side of the border into Ukraine and into the hands of Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.  That has fueled the violence and conflict that we’ve seen in Ukraine.  Unfortunately, it has also had tragic consequences for citizens from countries around the world after the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

In fact, last week, when the United States -- the day before the downing of that jetliner -- announced new set of sanctions against Russia, we noted specifically that these sanctions were aimed at Russia’s continuing efforts to provide weapons and materiel to the Russian-backed separatists.  We’ve also called on President Putin and other leaders in Russia to use their influence with those separatists to urge them to abide by a cease-fire agreement.

In terms of the sanctions regime that has been put in place, there are a number of steps that the United States has taken against individuals in Russia but also against some large commercial entities in the banking, defense, and energy sectors.  There’s ample evidence -- if you look at some of the economic data out of Russia -- that those sanctions are having an economic effect.  They have had an impact on economic projections that have been performed by outside agencies.  I know that the IMF and others, the World Bank I believe, have downgraded their future economic projections for Russia in terms of economic growth in that country.

We’ve seen a lot of capital flight and flows of capital out of Russia.  That’s an indication that international investors are wary or even reluctant, because of the unstable situation, to continue making investments there.

We’re also seeing that the Central Bank in Russia is concerned about the health and well-being of the currency there.  We’ve seen the Russian Central Bank extend significant sums -- expend significant sums of money trying to shore up the strength of their currency.

So it is clear that Russia has had to take a number of steps to respond and deal with the sanctions regime that the United States, in coordination with our allies, has imposed.  So those economic costs have been imposed on Russia and felt by Russia. 

But if your suggestion is that they have not had yet the desired effect in terms of getting Russia to adhere to some basic international norms in their dealings with Ukraine, that’s correct.  And that is why the United States continues to be in touch with our allies in Western Europe about additional economic costs that could be imposed.

The President stood at this podium last week and indicated his assumption that the downing of that jetliner would be a head-snapper for the international community.  And it is clear that Russia is more isolated than ever in this circumstance because of their aiding and abetting of Russian separatists who killed 300 innocent people.

So this is something that we continue to be focused on.  Even as the President traveled this week, he was in touch with some of his counterparts in Europe.  I would anticipate that conversations between senior administration officials and their counterparts in Western Europe about dealing with this situation in Ukraine will continue over the weekend. 

Q    And what’s the latest reaction to the resignation of Ukraine’s Prime Minister?  How much additional uncertainty or turmoil does that inject into the situation there?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we’ve seen the reports of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk's resignation.  I’d refer you to the Ukrainians for details about the status of their coalition government.  President Poroshenko, who was recently elected, of course remains in place, and we continue to cooperate closely with the Ukrainian government.  You’ll note that the President has made a couple of phone calls to President Poroshenko just in the last few weeks.  And that’s an indication that the ties between our two countries and the cooperation between our two countries endures.

The fact is that any coalition government in any country is going to have varying views among its parties.  And we’ve expected at some point that there would be new parliamentary elections in Ukraine in any case.  So this is part of domestic politics in Ukraine, but it does not in any way affect the United States’ relationship and support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people as they confront the destabilizing activities of their neighbor.


Q    Can I follow on that?

MR. EARNEST:  Sure. 

Q    The issue of sanctions, it sounds like there are active conversations going on.  How soon could we see a new round of sanctions?  And how confident are you that the EU would join the U.S. in another round of sanctions, in terms of intensity and severity?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’ll let the Europeans themselves speak to their willingness and desire to put in place additional economic costs.  Given the tragedy that we saw last week, and given Russian complicity in that tragedy, I think it is a reasonable assumption from any outside observer that the international community, including Europeans, are more motivated than ever to impose additional economic costs against the Russians.  But, again, that will have to be a decision that they will make for themselves. 

They will, however, I’m confident, continue to make those kinds of decisions in coordination with the United States.  That’s why there have been so many phone calls, frankly, between this side of the Atlantic and that side of the Atlantic.  In terms of timing, I’m not in a position to offer specific details about the timing of a new round of sanctions.  As we’ve discussed before in this room, it would be unwise strategically for me to send clear signals about the content or timing of sanctions that would only allow those who were the target of those sanctions to make early efforts to try to get around them.

Q    And going back to your point about the fact that Putin still clearly isn’t yielding to the sanctions, some of the President’s critics -- one, William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense -- has said that the President hasn’t shown enough leadership in terms of corralling European leaders.  What do you say to those critics who say he really needs to step up here and pressure Putin?

MR. EARNEST:  I think you’ve seen the President play a very visible leadership role in organizing the international response to Russia’s destabilizing activities in Ukraine.  I say that not just as an observation about the President’s comments in the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy.  But this is -- all along, the international community has been closely coordinating with this government under the leadership of this President to respond to this situation. 

And the President continues to work closely with our allies to make progress on this.  The international community is united, and the Russians are isolated.  And some of that is a result of the outrageous actions that we’ve seen from the Russians.  But some of that is also a result of this President’s leadership in organizing the international response to this situation.

Q    And just domestically, Cecilia Muñoz acknowledged on MSNBC earlier today that the administration is considering a refugee program that would impact a small number of kids in Central America.  Can you tell us where those considerations stand and what a small number would look like?  Is that thousands of kids?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Kristen, this is among the things that the President will be discussing with the Central American leaders later today.  As you know, for a number of weeks now, this administration has been focused on what kinds of steps we can put in place to deter illegal migration from Central America.  We’ve taken a number of steps.  The public messaging campaign that I referenced earlier that’s focused on ensuring that individuals don’t make that long journey has been a focal point of our efforts.

We have also sought additional resources to expand our detention facilities so that when individuals are apprehended at the border they can be detained and processed through the system.  Now, we’ve also devoted additional resources to that immigration court system so that these cases can be processed more quickly and efficiently.  The reason for that is that we want to efficiently enforce the law.  And that is why you have seen some of these repatriation flights take place, because we are committed to not just enforcing the law, but also demonstrating in front of the international community, in the eyes of the public, that we’re committed to enforcing the law.  That serves as a deterrent effect.  That is clear evidence that making the dangerous journey and arriving on the southwest border does not grant one free access to the United States of America. 

We have also sought additional authority and deployed additional resources to counter criminal networks that are facilitating so much of this illegal migration.  Breaking up those criminal networks continues to be a focal point of U.S. law enforcement, but also law enforcement officials in Mexico as well.  So we’re certainly gratified with the international cooperation that we’ve gotten from the Mexicans in particular on that matter.  And the contemplation of this pilot program that would allow for some in-state processing is merely the continuation of our effort to try to deter individuals from traveling from Central America to the U.S. border.

Q    But no decision has been made yet?

MR. EARNEST:  No specific decisions I’m in a position to announce from here.  But this is a program that we have talked about internally at the White House, and the President will be discussing with those Central American leaders.  But it’s important for your viewers to understand that this pilot program is aimed squarely at deterring those individuals who may be contemplating a trip from Central America to the southwest border with the U.S.


Q    Can I just ask, how many people would likely be involved in such a program?  Is that going to make a sizeable dent in these huge numbers we’ve seen at the border?  I wanted to follow with another subject, too.

MR. EARNEST:  Our intent would be that, regardless of how many people are able to go through the program -- and at this stage it’s too early for me to say what those numbers would look like -- but our broader intent here is, as a broad message of deterrence, that people would see that there is an organized process if they feel like they have a legitimate asylum claim, that they don't need to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. to make that asylum claim, that they can be processed in their own country.

And that would -- we hope will serve as a pretty effective deterrent.  We’ll see.  That's the point of a pilot program like this.  But, again, this is still in the discussion phase.  And if we have more to talk about today after the meeting, then we’ll try to get you some additional information at that point.

Q    Can I also ask you about the state of play on the Hill?  We’re about a week from congressional recess.  Looks like the latest take on what the Republicans in the House are going to give you is something on the order of a billion dollars, and all contingent on changes to the 2008 law.  Is that enough money?  Are you willing to go along with that?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Mark, I think this may be one of those situations where your question indicates a little bit more optimism than even I have.  (Laughter.)  It’s usually the reverse.  I guess in this case it’s -- and I appreciate that.  It’s one of the many things I appreciate about you, Mark.  (Laughter.) 

Q    Should he be more cynical?  Is that what you’re saying?  (Laughter.)

MR. EARNEST:  Not at all, not at all.  I think my rare display of cynicism is actually rooted in Speaker Boehner’s comments from yesterday.  I saw that he did a news conference where he was asked basically the question that you’re asking me:  Is it safe to say at this point that Congress probably won’t be able to strike a deal on legislation to deal with this immigration crisis before you all go home for a month?  That was the question that was posed to the Speaker.  The Speaker responded by saying, well, we’re continuing to talk to our colleagues, and these conversations are going to continue today and again tomorrow.

That is not -- those are not the words of somebody who is, as the President might describe, feeling the fierce urgency of now.  The President and this administration three weeks ago put forward to Congress a very specific proposal for the resources that this administration needs to deal with what even Speaker Boehner himself acknowledges is a pretty serious problem at the border.  And what we’ve seen from Congress is a lot of talk, but not really any action. 

And that is a disappointment, both because it is an indication that they’re not willing to live up to their own rhetoric when it comes to dealing with this issue.  I think we also have seen that there’s a pretty strong feeling by the American public that this is a situation that needs to be addressed and be addressed in a way that is consistent with American values, in terms of providing for the basic humanitarian needs of these individuals, but also ensuring that the law is enforced. 

There’s also a public safety question here.  And Governor Perry, when he met with President Obama, raised concerns about the public health impact of having individuals who were apprehended on the border detained on American soil.  He expressed concerns about whether or not they had immunizations and other basic health needs that could be met.  Included in our supplemental appropriations request is additional money for HHS to make sure that those basic health care needs are met, both to meet the humanitarian needs of those who have been apprehended, but also to ensure the safety of the public in these communities where these individuals are detained. 

So Republicans themselves acknowledge that the proposal that’s included in the appropriations request would meet some of the needs -- many of the needs that they themselves have identified as a priority.  But yet, all we see from Congress are conversations that are going to continue today and again tomorrow.  That’s rather disappointing.

Q    What about that number though -- a billion dollars -- less than a third of what you asked for?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we’ve been pretty clear about what we think that we need.  If there are additional proposals that Congress will actually act on, we’re certainly willing to have conversations with them about what they’re willing to do.  But, again, all we’re hearing from the Speaker of the House is talk that’s not backed up by any action. 


Q    Thank you, sir.  Staying with immigration -- why is the President going to send an assessment team to the border to determine whether the National Guard is required?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, as you’ll recall, Mike, the President had the opportunity to visit with Governor Perry down in Texas just a couple of weeks ago, as I mentioned to Mark.  In the context of those conversations, Governor Perry indicated that it might be helpful to deploy some National Guard resources to the border. 

We’ve made pretty clear that those individuals who are interested in adding resources to the border to provide for border security should be strong supporters of comprehensive immigration reform that would invest about 20,000 boots on the ground.  Governor Perry suggested that sending 1,000 boots of National Guard troops to the border would serve as a deterrent. 

So despite that slight intellectual inconsistency that’s articulated by the Governor, the President, demonstrating his commitment to acting in bipartisan fashion, said he would at least consider the request that Governor Perry had made.  So part of considering that request to send additional National Guard troops to the border, the President directed the Department of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to dispatch an assessment team to the border to see what sort of DOD resources might be useful in helping address the situation there.

After all, we would want to make sure that any additional resources that are sent to the border are closely coordinated with the widespread efforts that are already ongoing there. 

Q    So it raises a few questions -- and I wanted to follow on Mark -- what House Republicans say they want to do at this point is to allocate money to send -- to have the feds basically to pick up the tab for the National Guard.  Would you be in favor of that portion of their proposal?  And, number two, when this has been done in the past -- President Bush did it in 2006 -- there were conflicts with existing law enforcement like the Border Patrol.  What are your concerns that the National Guard could be effective in actually stopping the flow, as opposed to interfering with existing law enforcement?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, just to take the last part of your question first, the problem that exists at the border right now is not that there are individuals who are seeking to evade detection at the border.  Rather, individuals are crossing into this country and seeking to turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents, state law enforcement officials in Texas, even local law enforcement officials, in an effort to escape the elements, which are pretty severe at this time of year, but also to pursue their claims through the immigration process.

So that’s what’s so difficult to explain about the National Guard request -- that the issue is not ensuring that we can detect everyone; the concern is about having the resources to process those who are detected and apprehended through the immigration system in a way that is efficient and consistent with our commitment to enforce the law.  That’s why our supplemental appropriations request has included a request for resources that could be used to hire additional judges and prosecutors and asylum officials to process these claims.

Q    Yes, but that’s an argument for allowing the National Guard to actually detain people, which they wouldn’t be allowed to do unless you actually -- the President actually made that stipulation within whatever action he took.  Is that what the President wants to do, allow them to detain people?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think what Governor Perry has said is that he wants to send the National Guard to the border because it would be an important symbol and serve as an effective deterrent to those who might be contemplating traveling to the southwest border.  I’m not sure that Governor Perry himself has said that he believes they should be given the kind of law enforcement authorities that would allow them to detain individuals. 

But you do highlight an important issue that also warrants mentioning.  If there are additional resources that are deployed to the border from the Department of Defense, the National Guard or anybody else, we want to make sure that they are appropriately integrated with the efforts that are already ongoing along the border.  Right now, we’ve got Border Patrol, ICE, state law enforcement officials through the Texas Department of Public Safety, and local law enforcement officials who are all working together to try to address this challenge. 

And those are just the individuals who are actually serving a law enforcement function in terms of apprehending individuals.  There’s a whole separate set of federal agencies -- HHS, DHS, FEMA -- who are coordinating the humanitarian response to make sure that those individuals who have been apprehended can also be detained in a humanitarian way.

So there are a lot of resources that have been deployed to deal with situation.  And anybody who’s contemplating adding to those resources, we want to make sure that any additional resource are appropriately integrated into the system that’s already in place.


Q    As you probably know, two of the Presidents of Central America, of these countries that are here today, have been making these rounds yesterday.  And there was a call yesterday for the White House to spend less on law enforcement at the border and more on education initiatives in their country and efforts to get rid of the gangs, because they came as a result of Merida and other, what they call effective programs in Mexico and in Colombia.  And I just wonder if that’s on the table and what the White House response is to the idea that you also have to change the conditions in these countries or be a part of that in order to change the reason why people are coming.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, some of the substance of the conversations that the President will be having with these Central American officials is to talk to them about what we can do to stem the tide at the source.  There are already some development programs that have been put in place through USAID to try to address some of the economic and quality-of-life concerns that individuals in these countries may have.  So there already are American resources that are being devoted to that effort. 

The other thing that we can, that is the subject of a lot of conversation even outside this latest situation, is extending and enhancing law enforcement cooperation between law enforcement agencies in Central America and in the United States.  In some cases, that means offering some expertise and resources to local law enforcement about steps they can take to enhance security in communities in their country.  This Citizen Security Initiative is something that the President talked about when he traveled to Central America a couple of years ago.

So this will be the subject of ongoing conversations.  It has been so far, and it will be part of the conversations between the leaders today.

Q    Just to follow up, there wasn’t any money in this latest proposal for these types of development initiatives.  Is there an appetite to add that to the current proposal or to look at a second proposal along those lines?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, that’s certainly an option on the table, but I’d refer you to the State Department for specific guidance about resources that have already been devoted to this effort and for additional resources that are available to address some of those concerns.


Q    Thank you.  Congressman Hensarling this morning said that he had written to the President asking the President to stop Russia from engaging in Ex-Im Bank financing.  He said the President has the power through the authority now to intervene.  Is that a good idea?

MR. EARNEST:  Roger, I have to admit I have not seen the letter from Congressman Hensarling.  So we’ll take a look at the letter, see if we’ve received it, and get back to you with an answer then.

Q    And on another question -- there are two Federal Reserve Board of Governors vacancies right now.  One left in March 13th, the other May 28th.  Is there any sort of holdup to naming new persons on the board?

MR. EARNEST:  There’s no holdup that I know of, but I’m also not in a position to make any personnel announcements from here today beyond the notes that I mentioned earlier about Dag Vega and Matt Lehrich.  I don’t think they’re in the running to be appointed to the Fed.

Q    Anything imminent --

MR. EARNEST:  I don’t have any details about timing at this point. 


Q    Has Russia moved multiple launch missile systems across the border into Ukraine?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Bill, I’m not able to give you the latest intelligence assessment.  We have seen a pretty strong track record, and there’s ample evidence to indicate that there has been, unfortunately, a steady flow of heavy weapons across the border from Russia into Ukraine and into the hands of these Russian-backed separatists.  We continue to be very concerned about that.  We do know that it was an SA-11 system that was in the hands of separatists that brought down the Malaysian airliner last week.  We know that Russia had been involved in training separatists to use that system.  And that is why the Russians are responsible for that and why the international community is now focused on isolating the Putin regime and getting them to change their behavior in Ukraine.

Q    There were apparently one or more systems moved close to the border earlier.  It’s not somewhere around after 10:00 p.m., and they thought they might move them over today.  And I wonder whether you knew that.

MR. EARNEST:  I’m not in a position to offer a specific detailed intelligence assessment about today’s movements of heavy weapons. 

Q    Is there firing across the border in either direction?

MR. EARNEST:  We have seen in the last couple of days, according to some social media reports but also to some intelligence assessments that have been released by the intelligence community, reports that there has been firing of Russian heavy weapons from the Russian side of the border at Ukrainian military personnel.  We have detected that firing, and that does represent an escalation in this conflict.  I know that the Pentagon and the State Department both talked about this a little bit yesterday, but it only underscores the concerns that the United States and the international community has about Russian behavior and the need for the Putin regime to change their strategy.

Q    So what are you going to do about it?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we’re going to continue to work with the international community to further isolate Putin and Russia, and to discuss imposing additional economic costs on Russia for their activities in Ukraine.

Q    I’m not meaning to be snarky, but that’s what you’ve been saying all along, and nothing much seems to have changed.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, as I mentioned to Roberta, there’s ample evidence to indicate that the economic costs that have been imposed on Russia have been felt by Russia’s economy.  There are a number of steps that have been taken by the Central Bank to try to shore up their currency.  We’ve seen outflows of capital, which is an indication that international investors are wary of investing in Russia right now.  That’s going to have an impact on their economy.  So there is evidence to indicate that the sanctions regime has had an impact on Russia, but what you point out is that it hasn’t yet changed President Putin’s calculus for his intervention in Ukraine.  That is why the international community is actively engaged in conversations about whether or not -- and how -- to impose additional economic costs and further isolate him.

Q    The question, though, that’s often raised here is why doesn’t the President act?

MR. EARNEST:  The President has acted many times.  The President nine days ago announced a new sectoral sanctions regime against some entities in the defense, financial, and energy sectors in Russia.  So there have been a number of steps that this President has already taken.  Those are, as some pointed out, more serous steps than our European counterparts have taken so far; that we have seen indications that the Europeans are preparing to take some additional steps.  They made some preliminary steps to that effect just yesterday, I believe.

So we’re going to -- the President has, as is evidenced by the facts, led the international response to this effort.  And he’s continuing to play a leadership role in focusing the international community’s attention on this urgent problem and using that attention to further isolate Vladimir Putin.


Q    Josh, at a briefing yesterday, one of the Central American Presidents blamed America’s appetite for illegal drugs, and a flow of American weapons south for creating the conditions in these Central American countries that the kids are trying to get away from.  How much responsibility do we bear for this?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I guess, Wendell, I’m not enough of an expert on Central American politics to give you a very good assessment of that claim.  What I will say is that the desperate conditions that exist in Central America is feeding the flow of illegal migration that we’ve seen from Central America to the U.S.

Now, fortunately, according to the data, we’ve seen that flow recede the first couple of weeks of this month.  That said, our efforts to confront this problem continue.  That will be the substance of some of the conversations that President has later today with those Central American Presidents.  It’s why we continue to push Congress to take action on the resources request that has been sitting on their doorstep for three weeks now.  There are additional resources that can be used to improve security at the border, to more efficiently process those individuals through the immigration court system, and make sure that we are repatriating those that don’t have a legal basis for remaining here.

Q    Also, some immigration activists in this country say -- since Speaker Boehner signaled comprehensive immigration reform wasn’t going to happen this year, the President began to look toward an executive order.  They feel that executive order will be aimed at reducing deportations from the U.S.  Is that a proper read?

MR. EARNEST:  I think anybody who claims to have some knowledge about the executive actions the President is contemplating is merely guessing.  What the President has said is he said he wants his Attorney General and his Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a review of existing law and determine what steps the President can take using his executive authority within the confines of that law to address some of the more persistent problems that are caused by our broken immigration system.

So they’re out there casting a wide net.  They’re conducting that review.  And they intend to forward that review to the President of the United States before the end of the summer.  I would anticipate that the President will act quickly after that.

But in terms of what the results of those executive actions will be, it’s not clear yet because it’s not clear yet what those executive actions themselves will be.  What is clear -- there’s only one thing that is clear -- which is that House Republicans have blocked the kinds of solutions that would be more far-reaching to addressing those problems.  And that’s unfortunate because there’s a bipartisan proposal that was passed through the Senate that has the support of the business community, the labor community, the faith community and the law enforcement community.  There is strong support for this compromise proposal, and the only reason that it’s not law right now is that House Republicans have engaged in a political strategy to block it.

Q    But some of those activists are being briefing here at the White House by the President’s advisors.  Are they being told that the President would like reduce deportations?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’m not going to give a detailed readout of those conversations.  What I know about them, though, is that most of the communication is the other way.  As the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General conduct a review about authorities that are available to the President within the confines of the law to address this problem, they’re interested in the ideas of activists and other experts who may have some suggestions for how that authority could be used to address some of these problems.

But again, in terms of what the outcome is going to look like, we’re going to have to wait until that review has been conducted and the President has made a decision about what executive authority he’d like to exercise.


Q    I just wanted to be clear, when you were talking about the pilot program earlier you’re talking about a program that would start in Honduras and then move into El Salvador and Guatemala, is that right?

MR. EARNEST:  Generally speaking, I think that some of these details are awaiting a presidential-level conversation, so I don’t want to get ahead of those conversations.  But what has been discussed, I guess is the most accurate way to say it, is a program that would set up facilities in some Central American countries to allow asylum claims to be processed in those states -- or in those countries, I guess I should say for the sake of clarity.  That would -- right now, what we’re seeing is individuals who feel like they have asylum claims making a very dangerous journey from Central America to the southwest border where they’re then put in the immigration system in this country, they’re detained in this country while their asylum claim is considered.

The idea here is that in order to deter them from making that dangerous journey, we’d allow -- we’d set up a system, in coordination with these host countries, to allow those claims to be filed in that country without them having to make that dangerous journey.  That’s the idea, and that’s why it’s consistent with our other deterrence efforts.

Q    Okay, but you’re not confirming that that’s how it would -- the discussions of it, that that’s what’s being discussed to start Honduras with the pilot program and then move into the other two?

MR. EARNEST:  In terms of the countries where these would be located, I’m not in a position to confirm that right now.  But you understand the general idea.

Q    Can I just -- on Ukraine -- it’s a little over a week obviously since MH17.  Does the administration have any doubt that that plane was brought down by separatists by an SA-11 system?  Is there any doubt about that now at this point?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, what we have seen is we’ve seen that there were heavy weapons moved from Russia to Ukraine, that they have moved into the hands of separatist leaders, and that those separatists who are backed by the Russians were trained by the Russians to use those systems.  Those systems include anti-aircraft weapons systems.  And according to social media reports, those weapons include the SA-11 system.

What we also know is that the Malaysia Airlines jet was brought down by a missile that was fired from the ground.  It was fired from the ground in an area that was controlled by separatists and in an area where the Ukrainians themselves were not actually operating anti-aircraft weapons at that time.

So that is why we have concluded that Vladimir Putin and the Russians are culpable to this tragedy.  And I guess the other thing I would point out -- let me look for my notes here -- that I noticed a recent comment from Senator Chambliss, who is the vice-chair of the Senate Intel Committee.  He’s a Republican and somebody who doesn’t often agree with the White House.  But he did say, whether it was -- this is a quote here -- “whether it was the Russians themselves that pulled the trigger or Russian separatists trained by Russians, it’s all the same, and it all goes back ultimately to Vladimir Putin.” 

So that is an indication that, based on somebody who has reviewed the classified intelligence assessments, that President Putin is responsible.  And that is why we are coordinating with the international community on a response that targets Russia for their actions.

Q    So you can’t say that you’re 100 percent certain and you have no doubt?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, that sort of assessment is something that would be delivered by the intelligence community, and so I’m not going to speak for them.  I’d let do that.  What I was able to review for you, though, was the intelligence that has been provided that I think paints a pretty clear picture about what exactly happened and who exactly is responsible.  That is an assessment that Senator Chambliss, somebody who has reviewed the classified intelligence on this matter, agrees with.


Q    If I can follow up -- that’s a pretty extraordinary statement I heard in the most direct way I’ve heard it from you.  You just said “Vladimir Putin and the Russians are culpable.”  So that leads to the immediate question, which is, what do you about it?  You mentioned what the President did nine days ago; that was before that plane was down.  So what will be done to hold the Russians and to hold President Putin accountable for the downing of that plane?

MR. EARNEST:  I think the fact that the President imposed this sanctions regime in coordination with our allies the day before the jetliner was down is an indication of how aggressive the President has been leading the international community to confront the bad behavior of the Russians in this circumstance.

So I'm glad that you mentioned that in your question.   The question that you're asking now is a relevant one, which is what is the international community’s response going to be in light of this terrible tragedy.  The President was pretty clear that he anticipated that this would be a head-snapper for the international community in terms of paying attention to a troublesome situation that they had previously, I think at least in some countries, had hoped they could get away with ignoring.  It's apparent that continuing to ignore this situation has had tragic consequences for at least 300 innocent civilians who were not even from either Ukraine or Russia.

So what the President will continue to do is to lead the international response to confront this effort.  And that means working with the international community to impose additional economic costs in the hopes of changing President Putin’s calculus for dealing with this specific situation.

Q    But that's one thing he’s hoping to change his calculus for what he’s going to do forward.  But as we talked about earlier this week, your U.N. Ambassador had said that the perpetrators of this must be brought to justice.  What is the idea -- what does that mean, being “brought to justice”?  Does that mean some more sanctions, or is there something beyond that?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think the “brought to justice” language is a reference to the investigation into what exactly happened in terms of bringing down the jetliner.  That's why we've called for this transparent international investigation and for investigators to be given unfettered access to the crash site.  I understand that the Ukrainians have given that authority to the Dutch to lead that investigation, and that investigation will necessarily lead to a review and an investigation into who personally is responsible for downing that jetliner.  And --

Q    But the words that you used was “Vladimir Putin and the Russians are culpable.” 

MR. EARNEST:  Are culpable for the situation, right, that they have been responsible for supplying the terrorists with these -- or the separatists with these weapons.

Q    But didn’t you use that in conjunction with the downing of that plane?  You said Vladimir Putin and the Russians are culpable.

MR. EARNEST:  Right, because of the intelligence that I had laid out earlier that has already been released by the intelligence community.  But you're asking a different question, which is those who are directly responsible be brought to justice.  And that is a reference to an ongoing investigation about who specifically targeted that plane and fired the weapon that brought it down.

Q    Who pressed the button and who was there.

MR. EARNEST:  Exactly.

Q    And if I can just -- a clarification on the border situation.  Your pessimism -- it looks like Congress is not going to act on any supplemental -- providing any supplemental funds to deal with this crisis.  What will be the impact on that?  I mean, what are the consequences we're going to see?  Is that going to impair your ability to address this crisis?  I mean, I assume it obviously will impair it to some degree.  But what are the stakes we're talking about here, Congress leaving town doing nothing?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think the biggest consequence is just that one of our priorities was to -- well, was to prioritize the cases, the immigration cases of recent border crossers; that we are going to devote the additional judicial resources in the form of judges and prosecutors and asylum officials to more quickly process the claims of those who have been apprehended so that we could more efficiently enforce the law.

There are some resources that already exist that we can dedicate to that effort, and the President has made the decision to move some resources from the interior and focus them on the border.  But there are additional resources that we would like to get access to so that we could just hire additional judges and prosecutors and put them on these cases.

Q    But the fact that you're not going to get that, what’s it going to mean?

MR. EARNEST:  What that will do is that will just extend the backlog that already exists.  And that's something that we're concerned about.

Q    Has the President talked to any Republicans during this -- since he released that, has there been any direct contact with Speaker Boehner, with Marco Rubio, with other Republican leaders, House or Senate, to try to push this thing through?  Obviously, you would need bipartisan support to pass it.

MR. EARNEST:  I don't know of any presidential-level phone calls, but I know that there have been a number of conversations between White House officials and officials on Capitol Hill in both parties about this matter.  We've been really clear about there should be -- there’s no ambiguity about our request is, right?

Q    Everybody knows what you want, but in politics you have to engage, you have to push, you have to negotiate.  I'm just wondering what kind of direct negotiations there are -- kind of shoe-leather work with Congress to get this done, specifically with Republicans.

MR. EARNEST:  Right.  I mean, again, Speaker Boehner himself said that he was still discussing among his members what they felt like they could do.  It doesn’t sound to me like they’re in a position to begin negotiating, at least begin negotiating with the White House.  It still appears that they’re, three weeks later, three weeks after we made our request, the House Republicans are still negotiating among themselves what to do.

We're concerned about this because there’s only one week left before they depart Washington, D.C., for their annual five-week recess in August.  And that means that this is a pivotal week that's coming up.  There are a lot of priorities that remain undone.  And we're pretty concerned about that.

Q    And I'm sorry, just one more question on the executive order front.  The President has been pretty consistent over the last several years that he did not have the authority to stop deportations.  Remember he said in 2010 that such a move would be -- “this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration and it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally.”  The refrain year after year from the President, going back as long as we've been talking about immigration, is that anything done on this would have to be done through congressional action.  Is that still the position of the White House, that you do not have the authority unilaterally, on your own, without Congress, to radically slow deportations?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we certainly -- the President does not have the executive authority that Congress has to take the kinds of steps that would confront so many of the problems that are caused by our broken immigration system.  What the President has directed his Attorney General and his Secretary of Homeland Security to consider is whether or not there are some steps within the confines of the law that could be used to mitigate some of these problems.

But these solutions that would be deployed through executive action are not as far-reaching as those actions that could be taken by members of Congress through the passage of congressional legislation.  Particularly when you consider what the Senate has already done in terms of the legislation that they’ve passed with bipartisan support that would have a tremendous impact on the broader economy on dealing with the estimated 11 million individuals who are undocumented but in this country.

Q    But I'm just asking very specifically, does the President still believe he does not have the authority without Congress to radically slow deportations?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, we're trying to, through the assessment that's being conducted by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, trying to determine exactly what authority the President does have.  What I can assure you of -- and I think what the President was alluding to in those remarks that he’s made in the past -- is that any steps that he takes unilaterally will not be as impactful as the steps that Congress could take by passing legislation that's already passed through the Senate.  The only reason it hasn’t passed through the House, of course, is because it’s simply been blocked by House Republicans.

Q    Is his goal to slow deportations?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Wendell, our goal is to try to address so many of the problems that have been created by our broken immigration system.  If you listen to the rhetoric of Democrats and Republicans, many people acknowledge that there are a wide range of problems that are caused by our broken immigration system.  What we want to try to do is pinpoint what problems can be mitigated through the use of executive authority.  Any solution that we're able to put forward will not be as impactful as congressional legislation.


Q    Two quick questions.  On the sanctions, is the question whether it's “whether” still, or just “which and when”?  The reason I ask, last night when you all put out a readout of the conversation with Prime Minister Rutte, it said “the President and Prime Minister agreed that Russia must not be permitted to destabilize the situation in Ukraine without incurring additional costs and that, accordingly, the international community will need to enact additional sanctions.”  That sounds like there’s no “whether” at this point, it’s just a matter of when and which ones you pick.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, it's certainly the position of the United States, Peter, that additional costs should be imposed on Russia and Putin for their actions in Ukraine.  Ultimately, our counterparts in Europe will have to make their own decision about the steps they’re willing to take to do exactly that.

We saw some positive indications yesterday in some preliminary steps that they had announced.  I know that there are meetings among European leaders next week and they have set a deadline for the end of the month, which is a week ago yesterday, for trying to come to a decision about what exactly they’ll do.  So we do believe that additional steps should be taken, but ultimately those are decisions that have to be made by those European leaders.

Q    So this is not referring to U.S. sanctions.  You're not saying more U.S. sanctions are coming, it's just a question of when and which ones?

MR. EARNEST:  I don't have the readout in front of me.  I think the reference -- I'm not trying to dodge the question.  I think the reference is to our view that additional costs in one form or another need to be placed on the Russians to try to get them to change their calculus for the way that they’re acting in Ukraine.  So the obvious step -- the next obvious step would be for the Europeans to take action.  And the United States is also considering additional action as well.

Q    On a different subject.  On the health care lawsuits this week, the rulings, this Jonathan Gruber video -- do you have a response to this?  Your critics are saying this shows that, in fact, there was an intent or at least the knowledge that this law was not intended to mean subsidies would be provided in the instances the Court --

MR. EARNEST:  I do have -- I mean, the thing that Mr. Gruber has said is that even by his own analysis and projections, he had always assumed that all eligible individuals would get tax credits whether or not their state marketplace is run by federal officials or local officials.

I'd also point out that Mr. Gruber filed an amicus brief in the Halbig case, taking the administration’s side that all individuals should get access to those tax credits as long as they’re eligible to get them.  So I think his views on this are pretty clear.  I think that he described those remarks as a mistake, but I'd refer you to his explanation for why he said them.  I think what is clear is that he, like Congress, intended for every eligible American to have access to tax credits that lower their health care costs regardless of who is operating the marketplace.

Q    He said at the time it was not intended, that in fact this was meant to be an incentive to states to sign up -- to do their own rather than to sign up with the federal system.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think that he said that's a mistake, that those comments were a mistake and didn’t represent his views.  I do think that there’s ample evidence to indicate, based on his own analysis, his own projections, and even his own legal filings, that he supports the administration view that every eligible American should have access to those tax credits.


Q    Earlier this week, even others in the administration were calling on the Israelis to take greater steps to minimize civilian casualties.  And you had these awful deaths at this U.N. school in Gaza.  It's not exactly clear who is responsible for that, I don't believe.  And then later in the week you had this outrage expressed in Israel and here in the United States over the FAA’s decision to halt flights into Tel Aviv.  I'm just curious -- where are U.S.-Israeli relations right now?  Do you feel that they were listening to your call, the White House call earlier this week to take greater steps to minimize civilian casualties?  And what did you make of that outrage that was being expressed in Israel about the FAA’s actions?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, first, I'm glad that you brought up the terrible violence that we saw in Gaza yesterday.  I do want to note that we are deeply saddened and concerned about the striking of a U.N. Relief and Works Agency school in Gaza.  We convey our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and injured in this incident, as well as the U.N. staff.  We, again, urge all parties to redouble their efforts to protect civilians.

In terms of the FAA’s decisions, those are decisions that are obviously made independent of the White House.  What I can tell you, though, is that the FAA was in close touch with Israeli officials as they were making those decisions.  The decision that the FAA announced was made with a specific goal in mind, and that goal is ensuring the protection of the traveling public, particularly Americans who are traveling. 

The FAA sought additional assurances from the Israelis before making their decision to lift that ban.  That's what they did -- they got those assurances and they made the decision based on their own criteria and calculation.  So I think that is actually, Jim, evidence of the close coordination that continues between the Obama administration -- even independent elements of the Obama administration at the FAA -- with the Israeli government.

Q    And let me just finish here.  That FAA decision, though, was cancelled almost in the middle of the night, after it was extended for up to 24 hours.  Was there political pressure that was being felt here at the White House, in the administration, to let that halting of those flights expire early? 

MR. EARNEST:  Well, this is a decision that was made --

Q    You said that no political, I guess, considerations are being made in terms of FAA’s actions, but were there political considerations in terms of ending that FAA action?

MR. EARNEST:  The FAA made this decision independent with one goal in mind, which is ensuring the safety of the traveling public.  And the thing that I want to point out about that timeframe that I think is also relevant to this is they put in place a 24-hour ban on flights into the international airport in Israel.  Then, they put in another 24-hour ban, which I think is an indication that they were serious about what they were trying to achieve in terms of ensuring the safety of the traveling public.  When they received the necessary assurances from the Israeli government, they lifted that ban immediately.  Again, I think that is indicative of a healthy working relationship and of the close coordination and communication that exists, again, between different elements of the Obama administration and the Israeli government.

Q    And the Secretary of Homeland Security has said that if you don't get the border supplemental money that the President has requested, that you could start running out of space to house the children down there at the border.  How real is that prospect?  And given that kind of dire consequence, why doesn’t the President feel it necessary to call the congressional leaders over here to the White House to work out some sort of compromise?  Because it seems as if the problem here is that the Republicans really want to change that 2008 law and the Democrats really want that money.  You’ve also said that the administration would also like to change the 2008 law.  Why can't the President just broker some sort of compromise here?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, we would like to see congressional action.  And right now, as I pointed out earlier, Jim, it seems to me, based on the comments of Speaker Boehner, that right now House Republicans are still negotiating among themselves.  That's unfortunate, because the administration --

Q    Democrats have all sorts of ideas as well.  They disagree with you about the 2008 changes to the law.  I mean, so there are differences on both sides.  Isn't that when the President is supposed to step in and --

MR. EARNEST:  I don't think that's a fair assessment, because I do think that we've seen Democrats in the Senate seek to take some specific steps to try to advance an appropriations request along the lines of what we've put forward.  I think they made some tweaks to our proposal, but they are moving on a supplemental appropriations request. 

Right now, House Republicans who are in charge of the House legislative process are currently focused on negotiating among themselves.  What they apparently don't have to negotiate among themselves is their focus on legislation next week that will allow the House to file a lawsuit against the President of the United States for merely doing his job.  That, I would posit, is an indication that they’ve got their priorities a little mixed up.

Q    And Dan Pfeiffer said earlier this morning that, “I would not discount” impeachment as a possibility.  Do you really believe that the President could be impeached?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think that there are senior members of the Republican political party or certainly prominent voices in the Republican Party who are calling for exactly that.

Q    And who is that?  Sarah Palin is one.

MR. EARNEST:  She mentioned it.  Somebody mentioned earlier that --

Q    She would be a prominent voice in the Republican political --

Q    Anybody in the Republican leadership seriously talking about that?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think Sarah Palin considers herself to be a leader --

Q    Hang on, Jon, it's my question.

Q    Sorry.  (Laughter.) 

Q    There’s been a lot of fundraising emails from the Democratic Party with the word “impeachment” in it.  This sounds like a fundraising ploy, a political ploy, not a real thing.  You don't really think the President is going to be impeached, do you?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Jim, I think that there are some Republicans, including some Republicans who are running for office, hoping they can get into office so that they can impeach the President.  That is apparently a view that they hold, because it’s one that they have repeatedly expressed publicly.

I think what’s really important --

Q    Is the White House Counsel’s Office looking at this?  Are you studying the possibility of being impeached?

MR. EARNEST:  Here’s the thing that I think is important about this.  And again, we’re coming up on a pivotal week.  Next week will be the last week that Congress is in session before Labor Day.  There are at least two items of business that members of Congress themselves have identified as important priorities.

I do think that they're right in that the American people share the idea that these are priorities.  The first is this supplemental appropriations request.  Everybody acknowledges that additional resources are needed to deal with this problem that we have at our border, both in terms of adding some elements of border security, but also adding some element of public health care in terms of making sure that those individuals who are apprehended at the border get the health care that they need, and that they don't pose a public health threat to the communities where they're detained.

There are a wide variety of resources that are included in that resources request, and unfortunately we have not seen action from House Republicans on that.

We have also not seen action from House Republicans on the VA reforms that we’ve spent a lot of this summer talking about.  We saw a lot of congressional Republicans racing to be interviewed by television reporters asking them about the importance of reforms to our Veterans Administration system. 

Consistently, congressional officials -- Republicans -- indicated that that was an important priority, that it was the least that we could do for our veterans and their families.  But here we are, one week before Congress is about to leave town, and there’s no discernable path that Congress is going to make progress on this.  Instead, we see House Republicans giddy about the prospect of passing legislation along party-line vote to pursue a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the President of the United States merely for doing his job.

That is an indication that House Republicans don't have a clue about the priorities of the American people.  And I hope that they’ll spend some time over the weekend thinking about it, maybe even talking to some of their constituents about what the priorities should be.  And hopefully we’ll see some action on some things that Democrats and Republicans in Washington and across the country agree need action.

Right now, all we get from House Republicans is a lot of talk and some action on a partisan, taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the President.


Q    Josh, it seems the Israeli Cabinet has just rejected Secretary Kerry’s cease-fire proposal.  Is it time for the President to discuss with the Secretary additional incentives, additional reworking of the proposal?  And although it has never been traditionally the way this administration feels about negotiating with terrorists, as Hamas is called, under these extenuating circumstances now, is it possible that Secretary Kerry may, in fact, meet with some of the leadership of Hamas?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, JC, I’m not in a position to react to those reports that apparently emerged in the middle of the conversation we’ve been having here this afternoon.

The way that Secretary Kerry has pursued this cease-fire agreement is he’s talked to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  He’s also talked to a number of other leaders, including those -- leaders of other countries, including those that have some influence over the Hamas leadership.  We don't deal with Hamas directly, but there are some other leaders and officials in other countries that do have a solid working relationship with Hamas.  And it is through them that we engage in these kinds of conversations.

But again, the goal that the Secretary of State is pursuing is a very clear one, which is to bring an end to the violence as soon as possible.


Q    Josh, a couple of questions.  Back on CNN question, how concerned is this administration with the remainder of the elections that we have left?  Because that could translate into articles of impeachment being pushed forward.  We’re hearing some of them could already be written up and just waiting for changes in the -- the changes over there.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, April, there are some prominent members of the Republican Party who have articulated their support for articles of impeachment.  That is the view that they’ve articulated. 

What we’re focused on is the business of the American people.  I think the President has been very clear about what his priorities are.  His priorities involve advancing American interests around the globe, even in the midst of some tumultuous circumstances. 

The President is focused on his domestic agenda that starts with expanding economic opportunity for the middle class.  The House Republicans in particular seem to have some different priorities.  But I’ll let them try to explain to the American public what those priorities are, and that will be their difficult task.

Q    So going back to my question, what is the concern of this White House as it relates to this election and the possible outcomes?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, the election is still a few months away.  I think our primary concern right now is that there are urgent priorities that are being blocked by House Republicans right now.  Those priorities include reforms to the VA.  Those priorities include the additional request for resources to deal with the problem at the border.  House Republicans are blocking common-sense immigration reform that's already passed the House [Senate].  House Republicans are blocking measures to raise the minimum wage to ensure equal pay for equal work.  A range of other important economic proposals.  That really is the focal point of our concern at this point.

Q    And also, Paul Ryan is looking to merge some anti-poverty programs.  What are your thoughts, what’s the thoughts around here at the White House?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I haven’t had a chance to review those programs in much detail.  I know that the previous House Republican proposals have decimated the kinds of programs that are so critical to middle-class families and those families that are trying to get into the middle class.

The Republican explanation for why those Republican -- those programs need to be gutted is that they are looking for money so that the can increase tax cuts for the wealthy and the well connected.

I am told that there are some proposals that are included in Chairman Ryan’s proposal that mirror some of the things that the President has advocated.  I know that there is a proposal in there that would expand earned income tax credit benefits to some workers that don't actually have children.  I know that there’s a proposal for criminal justice reform in there.  So there may be an opportunity for us to find some common ground to advance some priorities for middle-class families.  But we’ll have to see how serious Chairman Ryan actually is about that.

Q    Anything new?  Any information on the U.S.-Africa Summit that's about a week away?

MR. EARNEST:  Nothing new, but I’m sure they’ll have more about it next week.

Mr. Nakamura.

Q    Just following up on what Jim asked earlier, the Secretary of Homeland Security has said that ICE will run out of money in August, and CBP by September, if you don't get emergency funding.  What does that mean to national security?  And what contingency planning are you making if you don't expect Congress to come through by the end of next week?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’d refer you to DHS for what impact Congress’s failure to act would have on their day-to-day operations.

Q    The White House is concerned about that in terms of -- or looking at that -- is the White House looking at that, what would happen if they run out of money?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I know that White House officials, particularly those who work over at OMB, are in regular touch with agencies about the funding that's necessary for their agencies.

But in terms of what the ultimate impact of Congress’s failure to act would be, I’d encourage you to check with those agencies.

Q    And the other thing you mentioned that -- the National Guard is deployed by Governor Perry, and he said he would like it to fit in with other law enforcement efforts to make sure there’s no confusion.  Have there been conversations by the President with -- follow-ups with Governor Perry since the time they met and since he’s announced this?  Have there been from the White House?  Has there been any communication between the administration at large with the Governor’s staff on this particular question since he has announced it?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, what the -- I know that there has been a couple of conversations between White House staff and a member of Governor Perry’s staff about the supplemental appropriations request that we’ve put forward to Congress and about Governor Perry’s proposal to deploy additional National Guard resources to the border.  There have been some ongoing conversations about those things, but --

Q    -- is the administration becoming more comfortable and understanding more about it?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think the practical consequences of those conversations is the Governor’s staff has become better educated about what exactly proposals the administration has put forward for dealing with these challenges.  That kind of coordination is critical to addressing some of these problems.

I know that there’s already an ongoing and strong working relationship between the Texas State Department of Public Safety and federal border security officials as it relates to coordinating those efforts.  We just want to make sure that if additional resources are provided, that they are integrated into those relationships that already work pretty well.  Okay?

Jared, I’m going to give you the last one.

Q    Thanks, Josh.  Since your cynicism about Congress has already been primed today, is the President going to be similarly disappointed if he sees a CR proposal before the August recess?

MR. EARNEST:  Say that last part again.  I guess I didn't quite get the question.

Q    Yes, if there’s a continuing resolution pushed by Republicans in the House before the August recess, some Democrats in Congress have said that this would be a bad idea, jumping the gun before, and there’s still time to do that.  Would the President be disappointed in seeing a CR before the August recess?

MR. EARNEST:  I don't know that we’ve taken a position about whether or not the House should act on the CR before the Congress recess.  I think I’ve laid out what I think are sort of our priorities right now, which are getting this supplemental appropriations request through Congress and getting these VA reforms through Congress.

I know that there’s also some talk of them taking some action, even on a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund; that would also be an obvious priority.  I’m not quite as cynical or pessimistic about their efforts in that regard.

Q    And a couple times today you’ve quoted the Speaker about immigration.  The Speaker has also said that he’s not interested in impeaching the President.  So why do you believe what the Speaker says when it comes to immigration but not when it comes to impeachment?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I do believe that the Speaker on a number of occasions said that there were not going to be steps taken by Republicans to shut down the government over health care.  We did see that that happened.  So again, maybe that means that you need to ask him a little bit more about whether impeachment is on the table or not, and maybe he can give you a more detailed answer than he has thus far.

But there’s no doubt that there are other prominent voices in the Republican Party that have strongly advocated impeachment.  And again, that's part of their agenda.  The President’s agenda is not focused on those kinds of political sideshows, but is actually focused on advancing an agenda that will expand economic opportunity for middle-class families.

So with that, why don't I do a week ahead, and I’ll let you guys get outside to enjoy this beautiful Friday afternoon.  One second here. 

Q    Press conference?

MR. EARNEST:  Which day is that?  Good question.  (Laughter.)

On Monday, the President will participate in the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.  April, you mentioned this.  The First Lady will deliver remarks and participate in a roundtable earlier in the day.

The three-day summit will cap off the Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative, and give 500 of sub-Saharan Africa’s most prominent young leaders the opportunity to engage with U.S. government officials, entrepreneurs, civil society representatives, as well as leaders in international development.

In the afternoon, the President will award the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal at the White House.  The First Lady will also attend.

And, April, we will have some more information about that Young African Leaders Summit next week.

On Tuesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House before that evening where he will depart for, yes, Kansas City, Missouri, where he’ll remain overnight, a fine -- a fine city for the President to visit.

Q    Is Eric going on that trip?

MR. EARNEST:  I’m delighted that the President is going, but Eric will be traveling with the President that day.  It’s a disappointment to me as well.

Q    Josh, is there a fundraiser associated with that?

MR. EARNEST:  I don't believe so. On Wednesday, while in Kansas City, the President will deliver remarks on the economy.  We’ll have some additional details about the President’s travel to Kansas City, Missouri early next week.  That evening, Wednesday evening, the President will return to Washington.

On Thursday, the President will deliver remarks at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In the evening, the President and First Lady will host a Celebration of Special Olympics and a Unified Generation at the White House to mark the anniversary of the Special Olympics.

On Friday of next week, the President will attend meetings at the White House. 

And with that, I wish you all a very happy weekend.

2:34 P.M. EDT

Remarks by President Obama after meeting with Central American Presidents


Cabinet Room

3:42 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to thank very much, President Molina, President Hernández and President Sánchez Cerén for being here today.  Our nations share extraordinary ties of culture, of family, of promise that enrich all of us and make our countries stronger.  And we have a wide range of issues that we share and have discussed in the past in various bilateral and multilateral forms. 

But today, our focus was on what’s been a significant challenge in the news and, more importantly, a significant challenge for families that have been at risk as a consequence of the rise of unaccompanied children traveling from Central American countries to the U.S. border, leaving their homes in Central America and making a journey that poses great danger to themselves.

All of us recognize that we have a shared responsibility to address this problem.  President Molina hosted Vice President Biden in an earlier meeting to look at specific steps that could be taken to alleviate this challenge.  And today, what I did was share with my counterparts here the efforts that the United States has in our continuing response, including unprecedented numbers of Border Patrol agents and resources at the border, more facilities to properly care for these children that have already arrived, and more resources for our immigration courts to process the claims of these children in a way that’s orderly and timely that protects their due process but also expedites the length of time that it takes to assure that they’ve gotten a fair deal.

Now, I emphasized to all three Presidents that the American people, and my administration, have great compassion for these children and want to make sure that they are cared for the way all children should be cared for.  And we’ve seen an outpouring of generosity from not only families at the borders themselves that are providing assistance -- you have nonprofit organizations and churches that are providing assistance -- but actually from across the country people have expressed their concern and compassion for these children.

But I also emphasized to my friends here that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at great risk and families who are putting their children at great risk.  And so I emphasized that within a legal framework and a humanitarian framework and proper due process, children who do not have proper claims and families with children who do not have proper claims, at some point will be subject to repatriation to their home countries.  

I say that not because we lack compassion, but because in addition to being a nation of immigrants we’re also a nation of laws.  And if you have a disorderly and dangerous process of migration, that not only puts the children themselves at risk, but it also calls to question the legal immigration process of those who are properly applying and trying to enter into our country.

Each President here emphasized the degree to which they have already begun to make efforts to discourage this dangerous trafficking in children.  And I want to thank all of them publicly -- I already did so privately -- for specific efforts that they’re taking in each country to discourage parents from sending their children on this journey, for going after and arresting smugglers in more aggressive fashion, and for working with us on the issue of repatriating the children and families in a safe and humane way. 

Initial reports show that our joint efforts appear to be paying off, and the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border this month appears to have dropped by half since June.  Of course, it’s still too high.  And so today we are here to continue to work together.

Finally, even as we meet this immediate situation, we all recognize that we have to do more to address the root causes of the problem, and that includes poverty and violence in Central America.  I discussed this when I met with Central American leaders last year in Costa Rica.  And we are committed to working together in partnership with each of these countries to find ways in which we can come up with more aggressive action plans to improve security and development and governance in these countries. 

I expressed again that we have a shared responsibility, for example, when it comes to dealing with drug trafficking, that we are dealing with the demand for drugs in the United States and doing more to stop the cross-border flows of arms, for example, from the north to the south.  And I also continue to emphasize the fact that not just if, but when we pass comprehensive immigration reform in this country, then we will have the capacity not only to strengthen resources at our borders, but we’re also going to have the capacity to create more orderly ways for legal migration, in some cases temporary worker programs that allow people to advance economically; allow our economy to grow, allow families to be reunified; but also, in many cases, a lot of people to return to their families in their home countries.              

With respect to the U.S. meeting some of its responsibilities, I briefed my fellow Presidents on the supplemental request that is working its way through Congress.  And I just want to mention that it is my hope that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will not leave town for the month of August for their vacations without doing something to help solve this problem.

We have a supplemental that provides resources for additional border security, for additional immigration judges, for additional resources to assist our Central American countries in providing facilities, and opportunities, and security needs to deal with the smugglers.  And we need to get that done.  And so there have been a lot of press conferences about this -- we need action and less talk. 

So let me once again thank President Molina, President Hernández, President Sánchez Cerén.  Each of these leaders have shown great responsiveness and great sincerity in wanting to deal with this situation in a sensible and compassionate way.  I appreciate their efforts.  They all face significant challenges, and the one thing that we I think all recognize is, is that if we are working together in a coordinated fashion, if the United States is listening to the ideas of these Presidents in how they are creating greater opportunities in their country, and also how we can deal with the challenges of the smugglers, I’m confident that we’re going to be able to solve this problem.

So they’ve proven to be excellent partners, and this is a situation where the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts if we’re working together effectively.

So thank you so much, gentlemen, for not only your thoughtful presentations, but also your countries’ cooperation.  It means a lot to me and to the American people.

Q    Mr. President, what about the refugee proposal?

Q    Is the refugee program possible?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Actually, I wasn’t going to take questions, but let me just respond to this particular question because I felt like some of the stories were a little over cranked.  And as I explained to my fellow Presidents, under U.S. law, we admit a certain number of refugees from all around the world based on some fairly narrow criteria.  And typically, refugee status is not granted just based on economic need or because a family lives in a bad neighborhood or poverty.  It’s typically defined fairly narrowly -- the state, for example, that was targeting political activists and they need to get out of the country for fear of prosecution or even death.

There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or a refugee status that a family might be eligible for.  If that were the case, it would be better for them to be able to apply in-country rather than take a very dangerous journey all the way up to Texas to make those same claims.  But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number of additional migrants. 

What’s more important is going to be for us to be able to find the kinds of solutions, both short-term and long-term, that prevents smugglers from making money on families that feel desperate; that ensure that we’re creating greater security for families in Central America, and that we are helping to grow opportunity long-term in Central America and in the kind of legal immigration system that makes this underground migration system less necessary.  And that’s what I’m going to be committed to doing. 

Q    Will you accept less money from the supplemental, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I said one question, Jeff.  Well, we are going to continue to work in consultation with Central American countries to find additional creative and sensible ways in which legal claims for migration can be processed in those countries in a fair and just way. 

All right, you guys got some bonus coverage there.  (Laughter.)

4:00 P.M. EDT

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Vice President Joe Biden spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about the Ukrainian domestic political situation, access for international investigators to the MH-17 crash site, and Russia’s continued supply of arms and supplies to the separatists.   President Poroshenko underscored that despite the dissolution of the governing coalition in Ukraine’s parliament, the government would continue its work to address critical economic reforms.  President Poroshenko updated the Vice President on his conversations with the leaders of the Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia regarding access to the MH-17 crash site and his efforts to facilitate the conclusion of a rapid international investigation into the tragedy.  President Poroshenko also informed the Vice President that Russia continued to supply heavy weapons and equipment to the separatists, and that Ukrainian troops were increasingly coming under direct fire from positions on the Russian side of the border.  The Vice President informed Poroshenko that the United States would continue to coordinate with the European Union and the G-7 about imposing further costs on Russia for its deeply destabilizing and irresponsible actions in Ukraine. 

Presidential Proclamation -- World Hepatitis Day, 2014
- - - - - - -
Around the world, one in twelve people are living with viral hepatitis. In the United States, millions of Americans are infected with this life-threatening disease, with more than two-thirds unaware of their infection status. Viral hepatitis can persist undetected for many years before revealing any symptoms, leading to long-term liver damage and thousands of American deaths each year. As we mark World Hepatitis Day, we strengthen our resolve to defeat this silent epidemic.
All forms of viral hepatitis pose serious health threats, but building public awareness can help prevent new cases and more effectively treat this disease. A safe and effective vaccine protects against hepatitis A and B. While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, early detection and therapy can prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer; reduce the risk of death; and potentially cure the infection.
Though this disease can affect anyone, viral hepatitis impacts certain communities more than others. African Americans, American Indians, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, the baby boomer generation (those born between 1945 and 1965), and people living with HIV are all disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis. Incidence rates are also higher among people who inject drugs. We must ensure these hardest hit populations have information about screening, preventing, and treating viral hepatitis. And we must do more to address related health issues such as HIV and substance abuse.
Through the Affordable Care Act, my Administration has made major strides in expanding access to viral hepatitis prevention, care, and treatment. New health plans must now cover hepatitis C routine screening for individuals at high-risk and one-time screening for adults born between 1945 and 1965. These preventive services will allow more Americans to know their status and seek treatment.
Earlier this year, my Administration updated our Nation's first-ever comprehensive Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Alongside Federal, private, and non-profit stakeholders across our country, we will continue to strengthen our Nation's response. Together, we can raise awareness, reduce the number of new cases, and save lives.
Thanks to the tireless leadership of researchers and advocates, we are beginning to break the silence surrounding viral hepatitis. Today, we once again raise our voices, educate our at-risk communities, and support those living with this disease.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 28, 2014, as World Hepatitis Day. I encourage citizens, Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and communities across the Nation to join in activities that will increase awareness about hepatitis and what we can do to prevent it.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


Joint Statement by the Presidents of the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

The Presidents of the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador issued the following statement at the conclusion of their meeting at the White House on July 25, 2014:

We met today to discuss our ongoing collaboration regarding the increased numbers of unaccompanied minors and adults with children migrating to the United States.  We expressed our shared belief in the need for a humanitarian response to the situation, with a focus on the safety and well-being of children and families. We reiterated our commitment to prevent families and children from undertaking this dangerous journey and to work together to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration.  We pledged to continue to pursue the criminal networks that are exploiting this uniquely vulnerable population and we agreed on the need to discourage the use of smuggling networks that place individuals at high risk of violent crime and sexual abuse along the journey. We reviewed and agreed to redouble our joint efforts to counter misinformation about U.S. immigration policy. We committed to work together on the ongoing efforts to humanely repatriate migrants, consistent with due process.

We expressed our commitment to work together in a spirit of shared responsibility to address the underlying causes of migration by reducing criminal activity and promoting greater social and economic opportunity.  The Presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras welcomed President Obama’s request for additional foreign assistance as part of the supplemental request to Congress to support the U.S. response to the increased migration. The Central American presidents indicated to President Obama that they are working on a comprehensive plan to address the underlying causes of the humanitarian situation on the border. We all agreed that an effective solution requires a comprehensive and joint effort on the part of the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the United States, as well as other countries in Central America, and Mexico and Colombia. We directed our teams to begin coordinating such a plan, in collaboration with other international partners.  Our objective is to create the conditions that will allow the citizens of Central America to live in safe communities with access to education, jobs, and opportunities for social and economic advancement.

FACT SHEET: Visit of President Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Hernandez of Honduras, and President Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador

On July 25, the President and Vice President hosted Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador to discuss how the United States and Central American governments are cooperating to disrupt smuggling organizations and promote safe, legal, and orderly migration.  The leaders discussed how we can work together with other members of the international community to accelerate development, economic growth, and security improvements in the region and address the systemic factors that are causing Central American citizens to undertake the dangerous journey to the United States.

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

The Administration remains greatly concerned by the numbers of unaccompanied children who are crossing into the United States. These children are some of the most vulnerable, and many become victims of violent crime, gang recruitment, exploitation, or sexual abuse along the dangerous journey.  This is a humanitarian matter and our first priority is to make sure these children are housed, fed, and receive any necessary medical treatment. We will also enforce U.S. immigration laws and the most effective way to deter the use of these dangerous human smuggling routes is to repatriate those who have crossed the border recently and have no relief from removal.  We have made clear that migrant children and adults arriving with their children are not eligible to benefit from the passage of immigration reform legislation or from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security are enhancing enforcement and removal activities.  DOJ is deploying additional immigration judges to increase capacity to process the cases of recent undocumented entrants, and to handle immigration court hearings as efficiently as possible while ensuring due process to safely return unlawful migrants to their home countries more quickly.

Shared Responsibility

The Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have coordinated closely with the United States in responding to increased irregular migration. They have implemented public awareness campaigns on the dangers of irregular migration, increased their consular presence on the border, and strengthened their enforcement efforts against smuggling organizations. In addition, the United States is working in close coordination with each country to ensure the safe, orderly, and dignified return of their citizens and to ensure adequate repatriation and reintegration resources in each country.  The United States is also providing $9.6 million in additional resources to support and expand repatriation center capacity and to provide training to immigration officials on migrant care and to increase the capacity of these governments and non-governmental organizations to provide expanded services to returned migrants.

Commitment to Central America’s Security and Development

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador face very complex challenges that have contributed to the recent increase in individuals emigrating from their home countries, including high levels of violent crime, poverty, and lack of opportunities.  The United States recognizes these serious challenges and is committed to promoting the evolution of a Central America that is prosperous, democratic, and secure. We continue to operate robust programs to support our Central American partners providing $161.5 million this year for Central America Regional Security Initiative programs that are important to enabling Central American countries to respond to pressing security and governance challenges.  The United States also provides almost $130 million in ongoing bilateral assistance to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala for a variety of programs related to health, education, climate change, economic growth, military cooperation, and democracy assistance.

The Administration is working to increase its support for Central America, beginning with $300 million in foreign assistance in the emergency supplemental request sent to Congress. The United States seeks to work with Central America, Mexico, Colombia, multilateral development banks, and other international partners to develop a sustained, well-coordinated plan to address the challenges facing Central America.  This effort will require the leadership of Central American governments, in close collaboration with civil society and the private sector to foster broad-based, lasting improvements in social and economic conditions in the region.

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 255, H.R. 272, H.R. 291, H.R.330, H.R.356, H.R. 507, H.R. 697, H.R 876, H.R. 1158, H.R. 1216, H.R. 1376, H.R. 1813, H.R. 2337, H.R. 3110

On Friday, July 25, 2014, the President signed into law:

H.R. 255, which amends certain definitions in the Provo River Project Transfer Act;

H.R. 272, which designates the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense joint outpatient clinic to be constructed in Marina, California, as the "Major General William H. Gourley VA‑DOD Outpatient Clinic";

H.R. 291, the "Black Hills Cemetery Act," which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to convey specified parcels of National Forest System land in South Dakota to local communities;

H.R. 330, the "Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act," which designates a memorial located in Riverside, California, as the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial;

H.R. 356, the "Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act," which authorizes a subsurface mineral land exchange in the State of Utah;

H.R. 507, the "Pascua Yaqui Tribe Trust Land Act," which requires, subject to certain conditions and valid existing rights, that specified land be held in trust for the benefit of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe;

H.R. 697, the "Three Kids Mine Remediation and Reclamation Act," which provides for the conveyance of 948 acres of Federal land in Clark County, Nevada, and for the remediation and reclamation of the Three Kids Mine site;

H.R 876, the "Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act," which authorizes the continued use of certain water diversion facilities located in specified wilderness areas within National Forest System land in the State of Idaho;

H.R. 1158, the "North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act," which requires the Secretary of the Interior to continue stocking fish in certain lakes within the North Cascades National Park Service Complex in Washington State;

H.R. 1216, which designates the Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center in Prescott, Arizona, as the Dr. Cameron McKinley Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Center;

H.R. 1376, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the Judge Shirley A. Tolentino Post Office Building;

H.R. 1813, which redesignates the facility of the United States Postal Service in Tallmadge, Ohio, as the Lance Corporal Daniel Nathan Deyarmin, Jr., Post Office Building;

H.R. 2337, the "Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act," which provides for the conveyance of about 40 acres of National Forest System land to Summit County, Colorado; and

H.R. 3110, the "Huna Tlingit Traditional Gull Egg Use Act," which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to allow members of the Hoonah Indian Association to collect the eggs of glaucous-winged gulls within Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Statement from the President on Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

I applaud Members of Congress for passing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.  Last year, in response to a “We the People” petition from consumers across our country, my Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose.  We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom.  The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget.  I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.


This week in science: the good ole days
A ward full of patients in iron lungs, i.e., the good ole days, before polio vaccine was available.
This week we learned that back in 2012, Earth barely missed a solar storm of such magnitude it might have fried the intertoobz and every other critical communications network. How bad could it have been? We only need to look back to the solar onslaught in late summer of 1859 to get an idea:
Aurorae were seen around the world, those in the northern hemisphere even as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People who happened to be awake in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora's light. The aurora was visible as far from the poles as Cuba and Hawaii.

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies. ... In June 2013, a joint venture from researchers at Lloyd's of London and Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) in the United States used data from the Carrington Event to estimate the current cost of a similar event to the world economy at $2.6 trillion.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Halbig again, Halbig still
on Cuomo: The governor is, Mr. Stein said. "somewhere between an astute politician and a thug.” @jdawsey1
Brett Logiurato:
One of the key architects of the Affordable Care Act made little-noticed comments in 2012 that could provide the law's conservative challengers a major boost in the most high-profile, ongoing challenge to undo it.

Earlier this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second-most powerful court in the U.S., threw out an IRS regulation that helps the federal government hand out key subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The court sided with plaintiffs, who argued the law specifically only allows states that run their own exchanges to provide subsidies to help lower-income people buy health insurance.

Supporters of the law have called the challenge unserious. But conservatives who support the plaintiffs in the case — Halbig v. Burwell — say one of the men that makes their case is Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who was one of the authors of the Massachusetts health law that served as the model for Obamacare.

Late Thursday night, comments from Gruber in 2012 were unearthed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Ryan Radia. During a 2012 question-and-answer session following a lecture, he made the same basic argument aboutt the point of the lawsuit.

Nicholas Bagley:
But if you think what Gruber said is some evidence about what the ACA means, you can’t ignore other, similar evidence. That’s cherry-picking. So go ask John McDonough, who was intimately involved in drafting the ACA and is as straight a shooter as there is: “There is not a scintilla of evidence that the Democratic lawmakers who designed the law intended to deny subsidies to any state, regardless of exchange status.” Or ask Senator Max Baucus’s chief health adviser, Liz Fowler. She says the same thing. Or ask Doug Elmendorf, the current CBO Director: “To the best of our recollection, the possibility that those subsidies would only be available in states that created their own exchanges did not arise during the discussions CBO staff had with a wide range of Congressional staff when the legislation was being considered.” Or ask Peter Orszag, then-OMB Director: “[A]s someone who was there, [there is] zero chance this was the intent (as opposed to typo/poor drafting).”

Or ask Jonathan Cohn or Ezra Klein, both of whom followed the deliberations over the ACA closely. Neither heard a whisper about any supposed threat. Or ask Abbe Gluck, a law professor at Yale who details how “a basic understanding of the ACA’s legislative process makes clear that Congress intended for the subsidies to be available on the federal exchanges.” Or ask Aaron, who wonders, if this threat was so clear, why TIE never mentioned it. “Do you think we would have ignored this? We wouldn’t have been concerned?”

Better still, ask the states, which were on the receiving end of the supposed threat.

Fascinating to watch premature victory jigs by conservatives who are working the refs to establish a narrative. Bagley has it right. In any case, we'll talk again after appeal.

More politics and policy below the fold.

Open thread for night owls: Oil and gas interests matter but health concerns don't, says judge
Night Owls
Brandon Baker at EcoWatch writes Colorado Judge Strikes Down Longmont’s Fracking Ban in Favor of ‘State’s Interest’ in Oil and Ga:
One thing is for sure—you can’t accuse Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard of being dishonest.

Her decision Thursday regarding Longmont, CO’s  fracking ban includes no ambiguity. Instead it clearly states that concerns about health risks to residents don’t quite stack up against Colorado’s stake in the oil and gas industries.

“While the court appreciates the Longmont citizens’ sincerely held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the state’s interest,” Mallard wrote in the decision, uploaded to Scribd by the Denver Post.

Voters approved the ban in 2012, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Association never stopped fighting to overturn it. Earthworks, the Sierra Club, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont and the other environmental groups listed as defendants plan on appealing the decision. The judge ruled that the ban can remain in place while an appeal is considered.

“While we respectfully disagree with the court’s final decision, [Mallard] was correct that we were asking this Court, in part, to place protection from the health, safety and environmental risks from fracking over the development of mineral resources,” Kaye Fissinger, president of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, said in a statement on Earthworks’ website.

“It’s tragic that the judge views the current law in Colorado is one in which fracking is more important than public health; reversing that backwards priority is a long-term battle that we’re determined to continue.” […]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004The Fire Is Extinguished:

It's remarkable how seemingly intractable labor disputes can get quickly settled when there's massive pressure on the employer. My favorite story about outside events leading to a labor settlement concerns the Newspaper Guild and the Detroit News.  

The Guild had won the vote to be recognized as the collective bargaining agent for the editorial staff at the News, but they hadn't been able to reach an agreement on a first contract with the paper, so they set a strike date of July 31, 1975.  

The Teamsters offered to try to mediate the dispute, and both sides were negotiating at the Teamster hall in Detroit on July 30th when a person barged in to the room and whispered in the ear of the top Teamsters official, who immediately stood up and exited with his staff, leaving the Guild and newspaper bargainers by themselves. A few minutes later, another Teamster came in to the room and said something to the effect of "Jimmy's missing, so you all need to get the hell out of here."

There was no way the Detroit News would let a labor contract get in the way of covering the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, especially since the Detroit Free Press would have scooped the News on everything about the disappearance. Therefore, the Guild got their recognition and their contract, and everyone went straight to work to cover the Hoffa story. All of a sudden the print deadline was far more important than the strike deadline.  

Tweet of the Day
In case you wondered, Congress is full of idiots (via @beebigelow )

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Spedwybabs' simple & helpful pointer for how to help with the Detroit water crisis; lots and lots of Halbig & King follow-up; and the House lawsuit against Obama inches forward. Also, the craziest gun story of the day: the MN man who shot a 17yo neighbor because she asked him to stop riding his lawnmower over her property. And the NRA imagines a "gun-required" world. The financiers are securitizing farmland and crops. What could go wrong? Turns out none of these big mouths ever "goes Galt." And they're also lying about the connection between corporate performance and their giant paychecks. Shocker.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments

Economics Daily Digest: The bad science behind the anti-woman agenda
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Debunking the Bad Science on Abortion and Women's Health (The Hill)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn explains the truth behind the anti-abortion myths that are presented as fact by lawmakers who pass legislation that harms women's health.

Setting the Table for Housing Reform (Progressive Massachusetts)

Alex Lessin summarizes Roosevelt Institute | Boston's deep dive into housing policy, which led them to focus on increasing public participation at zoning meetings as a key step for fair housing.

Some Republicans Push Compassionate, Anti-Poverty Agenda Ahead of 2016 Contest (WaPo)

Zachary Goldfarb speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, who says many of these Republican reform ideas only put a nicer spin on radical proposals like the Ryan budget plan.

Parts of Paul Ryan's Poverty Plan Even a Liberal Can Love (U.S. News & World Report)

Fixing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and limiting unnecessary professional licensing in some occupations are opportunities for bipartisan agreement, writes Pat Garofalo.

United Airlines' Outsourcing Jobs to Company That Pays Near-Poverty Wages Is Shameful (HuffPo)

Robert Creamer decries United for eliminating hundreds of middle-class jobs for the sake of financial performance. He writes that companies can't be permitted to put stock performance ahead of people.

Forget Too Big to Fail. Banks Bro-down to Borrow, and It May Cause a New Crash (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore calls on regulators to push new requirements on banks for their short-term lending, which she sees as a key piece of financial regulation to keep banks from failing.

New on Next New Deal

White House Summit Speakers: Look Beyond Congress for Action on Working Families

With Congress in gridlock, Julius Goldberg-Lewis, Midwest Regional Coordinator for Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, praises the White House Summit on Working Families' focus on states and businesses.

Big Data is Watching You

In his speculation on the future for the Next American Economy initiative, Mike Mathieu, founder of high-tech business incubator Front Seat, says data-mining is coming for the human brain.

Stephen Colbert on Obamacare ruling from D.C. Circuit

Last night, Stephen Colbert looked at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel's reasoning behind striking down the subsidies for Obamacare in all those red states that have refused to set up their own health care exchange.

STUART VARNEY (7/22/2014): Big blow for Obamacare, and we're accurate in saying it. It is a huge blow for Obamacare.
That's how you know a news organization is trustworthy—they make the extra effort to point out when they're being accurate. (audience cheering and applause)


You see, in a 2-1 vote, the court this week ruled that residents of the 36 states that have not set up their own Obamacare insurance exchanges cannot get federal health care subsidies, because the exact words of the Affordable Care Act say that subsidies are available to people who are "enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State." And because it's written exactly that way, the court ruled that "subsidies are only available on state-based exchanges, not on the exchange".

And they based their ruling on the well-established precedent, "You forgot to say, 'Simon says!'" (audience laughter and applause)

Video and full transcript below the fold.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott stops dodging minimum wage questions, admits he opposes a raise

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has finally stopped ducking questions and taken a small step toward honesty about his position on the minimum wage. Scott opposes raising the minimum wage. Anyone who's paying attention knows this. But he apparently doesn't want the voters of his state to see him saying so openly, so he's been refusing to answer questions about it, as if "I support more jobs" is not so blatant a dodge that you can't just add "but not a higher minimum wage" onto the end of that sentence for yourself.

Presumably Scott's campaign told him that it would, in fact, be bad for his re-election if footage circulated showing him openly supporting a poverty wage. But instead, what he got was weeks of questions about why he wasn't answering direct questions, followed by having to come out and say no, he doesn't support raising the minimum wage. I guess what all that ducking and weaving bought him was time to come up with an answer trying to make the minimum wage a President Obama issue, rather than the majority-of-the-American-people issue it actually is.

Florida's minimum wage is currently $7.93 per hour, which is in fact above the federal level. But it's still less than $16,500 for a year of full-time work, which means Florida's workers still need a raise—and Rick Scott doesn't want them to have it.

No, high CEO pay really doesn't lead to soaring stock returns

So much for that whole "companies need to pay CEOs giant piles of money to get top talent and ensure profit" thing:

Stock returns plotted against CEO pay. Right next door to random.
Okay, it's not quite random. But it's right next door.
This graph shows the pay of 200 CEOs and the stock returns of their companies:
The trend line—the average of how much a CEO’s ranking is affected by stock performance—shows that a CEO’s income ranking is only 1 percent based on the company’s stock return. That means that 99 percent of the ranking has nothing to do with performance at all. (The size and profitability of companies didn’t affect the random patterns.)

If “pay for performance” was really a factor in compensating this group of CEOs, we’d see compensation and stock performance moving in tandem. The points on the chart would be arranged in a straight, diagonal line.

In short, nope. Further, Bryce Covert notes that:
... even when companies boast that they tie executive compensation to company performance, the country’s largest companies routinely game those systems to ensure they get their bonuses and payouts, such as setting targets so low as to be meaningless or fluffing up their reported profits. ... Worse, out of the highest-paid CEOs over the past 20 years, nearly four in ten were fired, caught committing fraud, or oversaw a company bailout. Incompetence doesn’t stand in the way of a big payday.
Not that any amount of data will ever convince companies that high CEO pay is the wrong way to go—the results they care about are in the bank accounts of top executives. But you'd think eventually it might sink in with the reporters who cover business, and we might start seeing more skeptical reporting about CEO pay.

AFSCME parts ways with the United Negro College Fund over Koch brothers money
AFSCME President Lee Saunders
AFSCME President Lee Saunders
It seems the right is up in arms over public employee union AFSCME's decision to stop a partnership with the United Negro College Fund over the UNCF's budding relationship with the Koch brothers. After the UNCF accepted a $25 million donation from the Koch brothers, much of it earmarked to a "Koch Scholars" program with two of five seats on the scholarship committee chosen by the Koch brothers, and the UNCF's president spoke at the Koch brothers' annual summit, AFSCME decided to find another partner for its own scholarship program for students of color. To some, this is an OUTRAGE!!!

AFSCME's decision hinged on a specific policy issue that you might think the UNCF would care about:

In a letter to UNCF president Michael Lomax, AFSCME’s Saunders called the Kochs “the single most prominent funders of efforts to prevent African-Americans from voting.” Lomax’s appearance at the Koch brothers’ annual summit, where they plot conservative strategy – this year’s focus was taking back the Senate in 2014 — was “a betrayal of everything the UNCF stands for.” Members of AFSCME, a union that supports Democrats with money and people power, voted unanimously to back Saunders’ decision at their annual convention in Chicago last week.
That's key. It's not just that the vast majority of the money the Kochs gave the UNCF will go not to the general pool of applicants for UNCF funding, but to the Koch Scholars program for students studying "how entrepreneurship, economics, and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society" (can you say "well-funded effort to train up black conservatives"?)—it's that the UNCF president went and spoke at a right-wing strategy conference at which other speakers included Charles f'ing Murray, notorious purveyor of the claim that black people are genetically less smart than white people. That is some serious bad judgment right there, and it's not crazy to think it's the kind of bad judgment that can maybe be bought by a $25 million donation.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders and 15 percent of the union's membership are African-American. The union is also deeply committed to getting out the vote—while the Koch brothers are deeply committed to voter suppression. Parting ways with an organization apparently climbing aboard the Koch gravy train seems like a very good idea, don't you think?

Grocery chain CEO's ouster sparks massive worker protest

If you haven't been following the Market Basket story over the past week, it's worth giving some attention: Thousands of supermarket workers and managers have been taking action—serious action—over the ouster of their company's longtime CEO. Really. Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was ousted after his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas gained control of the company's board, sparking protests:
Drivers and warehouse workers have been on what can only be called a wildcat strike. Store managers are encouraging customers to boycott their stores. Politicians are lining up to support the boycott. Even the Dropkick Murphys have tweeted their support.
The shelves in Market Basket stores have been left bare by the worker protests. An estimated 5,000 workers and supporters rallied Friday morning as Market Basket's board met. Arthur T. Demoulas has offered to buy a majority share of the company, an offer the board said it would "seriously consider." It also issued a statement pressuring workers to go back on the job. Which they will, if the board does the right thing.

So why are the workers so fiercely loyal to Arthur T.? Well, it's pretty simple: Under Arthur T., Market Basket employees have been paid well. They've gotten benefits and bonuses. And they've been treated with respect. Arthur T. Demoulas has earned his workers' respect and affection. But it's not just that:

“Market Basket employees think that without Arthur T., they won’t be able to hold on to their values and will fall into a vicious cycle,” said Zeynep Ton, a professor of operations management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who visited the picket lines this week. “I don’t blame them for fighting to keep the integrity of their business.”
In the current business environment, when a CEO who runs a profitable business while treating workers well gets the boot, you have to suspect that one of the plans for greater profit is to treat workers worse. We've seen it so many times, and clearly these workers believe they have reason to worry. What's perhaps most remarkable is that they have enough solidarity and feel powerful enough to take such strong action.

Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Coke FRIDAY!
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Friday Night Margaret & Helen Blogging

After posting once in January, the most famous octogenarian duo in Blogger Land---one from Texas, the other from Maine---disappeared and left their legion of fans jonesin' for 168 days. Happily they re-emerged, feisty as ever, and we can thank a certain Texas governor for it, writes Helen…

I thought I was ready to hang my quill up for good and then Rick Perry had to open his mouth again and let a whole lot of stupid fall out. When will that man realize that his brain is older and more tired than even mine? … Now the man who wants to shrink the federal government just enough to fit inside my vagina is complaining that Obama isn’t doing enough to stop the flood of immigrant children coming across the border illegally. Evidently the only children Rick cares about are the ones who haven’t been born yet. Once they are here---screw ‘em!
She also has a few words about the jerk who wants to succeed Governor Oops:
Margaret and Helen blog photo
Love what they've done
with their battle cruiser.
Do a little research on Greg Abbott folks. He is the real deal when it comes to crazy. He is suing Obama over the border issues. He hates those children too, I guess. In fact, the only thing Greg Abbott seems to hate more than immigrant children is the ability for women to limit the number of unwanted children they bring into the world. This Republican conundrum is troubling indeed---which comes first, the chicken or the vagina?

Margaret, dear, my work on this earth is not done. Texas needs another  woman in the State Capitol. I’m for Wendy.

They followed it up this week with a look at Perry's warped brand of compassionate-conservative Christianity.

Welcome back, ladies. We missed you.

Your west coast-friendly edition of  Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]


Ex-Chief of C.I.A. Shapes Response to Detention Report
George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director, has been quietly engineering a counterattack against a Senate panel’s finding that officials misled Congress about an interrogation program.

National Briefing | Washington: Guantánamo Defendant Gets Own Trial
A military judge has ruled that one of five prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay naval base charged in the Sept. 11 attack should be tried separately from his co-defendants.

Ex-Chief of C.I.A. Shapes Response to Detention Report
George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director, has been quietly engineering a counterattack against a Senate panel’s finding that officials misled Congress about an interrogation program.

Plagiarism Scandal Tests a Senator Still Forming a Rapport With Montanans
Many voters in Montana seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude as they judge the future of Senator John Walsh, a Democrat accused of plagiarizing a paper he submitted to the United States Army War College.

Ex-Obama Aide’s Statements in 2012 Clash With Health Act Stance
The adviser, Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at M.I.T., made a statement in 2012 that undercut arguments the Obama administration is now making about the Affordable Care Act.

Israel’s Outspoken Envoy Is Wise to U.S. Ways
Ambassador Ron Dermer, a former American citizen, has such a close relationship to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that he has been called “Bibi’s brain.”

Move to Center Divides G.O.P. in North Carolina
The speaker of the North Carolina House, who helped lead a Republican revolution in the state, will likely need to appeal to more moderate voters as he tries to unseat an incumbent Democratic senator.

Web Use to Be Unmonitored for Congress
The director of national intelligence said that members of Congress and staff members with security clearances would not have their computer use monitored as part of efforts to prevent leaks.

Obama Presses Central American Leaders to Slow a Wave of Child Migrants
The president met with three Central American presidents as he pushes Congress to approve more money and resources to address the issue along the United States border with Mexico.

Rand Paul Stands Out in Courting Black Voters
The Kentucky senator, taking heed of lessons for the Republican Party in 2012, made his pitch at a National Urban League Conference.


Hendrik Hertzberg: Anthony Weiner’s all-digital sex scandal.
It’s been another political season of impressively gaudy sex scandals, further confounding America’s hard-won reputation as a nation of censorious puritans. The paradox isn’t so surprising, when you think about it: the broader the range of sex-related activities deemed immoral, unnatural, or . . .

John Cassidy: Don’t give up on Detroit.
If you were to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, home to Diego Rivera’s magnificent murals depicting scenes at the Ford Motor Company in the early nineteen-thirties, and then take a stroll through the surrounding streets, you might be surprised at what you would find: coffee shops . . .

Jelani Cobb: The folly of Stand Your Ground laws.
For some years, the N.R.A.’s approach to gun-rights advocacy has amounted to a variant of the old Maoist dictum, to the effect that democracy flows from the barrel of a gun. In March, the group provided a novel twist on the theme of sidearm liberty when it . . .

George Packer: Why Egypt is a foreign-policy puzzle.
American foreign aid has always been an awkward exercise in high-minded self-interest—humanitarian goals balanced uneasily with strategic calculations. Whenever these two come into conflict, Presidents inevitably find a way out of their loftier commitments. In 1947, when Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed a huge . . .

Jeffrey Toobin: The end of DOMA and the future of gay rights.
The Supreme Court’s embrace of gay rights last week had an almost serene majesty. The obvious correctness of the Court’s judgment, its curt dismissal of a monstrous injustice, had a grandeur that requires little elaboration. Yet the decision had its roots in something prosaic and largely . . .

Steve Coll: Obama sends weapons to Syria.
The carved minaret above Aleppo’s twelfth-century Umayyad Mosque collapsed in April. The city, which is Syria’s most populous, has endured Hittite, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule, little of it benevolent. But this year, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have delivered a distinctly . . .

Hendrik Hertzberg: Difficult questions about the N.S.A.
Since the first week of June, when the Washington Post and London’s Guardian, doing the work that journalism is supposed to do, published detailed news of the National Security Agency’s gigantic programs of cell-phone and Internet information-gathering, the world has been riveted. These were . . .

Steve Coll: Why journalists deserve better protections.
In 1969, when nothing excited the public’s interest like the depredations of drug fiends, the Louisville Courier-Journal sent a reporter named Paul Branzburg to penetrate Kentucky’s marijuana underground. He published eyewitness accounts; a photograph accompanying one of them showed hands hovering over a pile of . . .

William Finnegan: The struggle for immigration reform.
It was edifying while it lasted. A bipartisan immigration bill, supported by an unusually wide coalition of business, labor, church, and humanitarian groups, made its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the baying over Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service was fierce and rising . . .

Elizabeth Kolbert: What’s at stake in Obama’s Keystone decision.
A lot of what’s known about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be traced back to a chemist named Charles David Keeling, who, in 1958, persuaded the U.S. Weather Bureau to install a set of monitoring devices at its Mauna Loa observatory, on the island of Hawaii. By . . .

60 MINUTES +/-

Reinventing opera at the Met
Bob Simon reports on the Metropolitan Opera's mission: to make opera as popular -- and populist -- as it once was

Daring rescue days before the fall of Saigon
The little known story of a young, American banker's 1975 return to Vietnam to save his stranded Vietnamese colleagues and their families

The Giving Pledge: A new club for billionaires
Membership comes with just two requirements: You must be worth at least a billion dollars and be willing to give half of that away

Billion-dollar art battle steeped in WWII history
Morley Safer reports on the discovery of the largest cache of missing art since WWII -- including some pieces looted by the Nazis -- and the battle over its ownership

Who's minding the nukes?
Lesley Stahl gets rare access inside an American nuclear control center and meets the young airmen who watch over some of the world’s deadliest weapons

60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll: Etiquette
What's the worst way to break up with someone? Americans share their opinions on etiquette in the July edition of the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll

Malcolm Gladwell: The power of the underdog
David had an advantage over Goliath? Malcolm Gladwell talks with Anderson Cooper about the link between adversity and innovation.

Hollywood's Villain: Kim Dotcom
The U.S. government says Kim Dotcom is one of the world's biggest Internet pirates, but Dotcom insists he's a businessman

Lamborghini: 50 years of exotic supercars
After half a century, Lamborghini is still making the kind of cars that dreams are made of -- a precious handful a day

The Chameleon: Cate Blanchett
The versatile Australian actress is famous for morphing into her roles, but tells Lesley Stahl that each time she worries she won’t pull it off

Disability, USA
Steve Kroft reports on the alarming state of the federal disability program, which has exploded in size and could run out of money

Drones over America
Will the skies of the future be filled with buzzing drones? Morley Safer explores the new, hardly regulated world of commercial drones

The Virtuoso: Marcus Roberts
Roberts lost his sight as a child, but gained incredible insight into American music -- inspiring a generation of jazz musicians

The Coptic Christians of Egypt
Turmoil in Egypt has led to one of the worst persecutions of the country's Coptic Christians in their nearly 2,000-year history

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