January 26, 2017

Texas sends 38 lawmakers to Congress — 36 House members and two senators — and 25 of them are Republican. None of them are willing to endorse President Trump's plan for a gulf-to-sea border wall. Not all of Texas' congressional delegation necessarily opposes the wall, but when The Texas Tribune asked about Trump's signature policy issue a few weeks ago, none would go on record as thinking it is a good idea.

Many of them were in favor of erecting barriers in some sections of the border, adding Border Patrol officers, and using surveillance technology, but Sens. John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R) only backed completing the last 50 miles of 700 miles of border fencing approved by Congress in 2006, most of it in Arizona. Others fretted about using eminent domain to seize land from ranchers, often family land passed down for generations.

Rep. Will Hurd (R), whose competitive House district spans 800 miles of border, from San Antonio to right outside El Paso, released a stronger statement on Wednesday. "Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border," he said. "Big Bend National Park and many areas in my district are perfect examples of where a wall is unnecessary and would negatively impact the environment, private property rights, and economy," Hurd said, adding that it would be "impossible" to build a wall in some sections of his district. Peter Weber

4:41 p.m.

President Trump needed to remind himself to shower Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in falsities.

Trump tweeted a racist attack on Omar and three other Democratic congressmembers on Sunday, suggesting they "go back and help fix" the "countries" they came from. And in doubling down on that attack Monday, Trump falsely accused Omar of "speaking about how wonderful Al Qaeda is," despite Omar having no ties to the terrorist group and Trump having no idea how to spell it.

During his Monday press conference, Trump said he didn't think his tweets attacking the freshmen Democrats were racist "at all" before repeatedly suggesting Omar's "statements about al Qaeda" were laudatory in some way. Omar has angered Republicans with some of her tweets, but she's never praised al Qaeda. The Washington Post's Jabin Botsford later shared these photos he captured at the conference, which show that Trump's notes were covered in black marker scribbles reminding him to bring up the mysterious "alcaida" and the even vaguer "some people."

While Trump has continued to defend his Sunday tweets, GOP lawmakers have been slow and even reluctant to react. The so-called "squad" of Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) meanwhile scheduled a press conference for 5 p.m. ET Monday to respond. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:35 p.m.

Morale is low at Customs and Border Protection, Politico reports, and Border Patrol agents are apparently none too thrilled with President Trump.

In a deep dive published on Monday, Politico detailed the dysfunction that has plagued the Border Patrol for years. There was reportedly hope that a White House led by Trump, who ran a 2016 presidential campaign centered on being tough on the southern border, would give the agency its time in the sun.

Turns out, two years in, that's not the case. Workforce morale is reportedly terrible, as it always has been, and it's been difficult both to recruit new members and retain old ones. And, despite the president's promises, the Patrol has made no progress toward hiring 5,000 new agents. In fact, the Trump-era Border Patrol is actually smaller than it was during the Obama years. Their pilot ranks are especially depleted; since Trump took office, the agency has reportedly been unable to meet four out of five requests for helicopter assistance.

That's seemingly doubly disappointing for those in the agency now, though, considering the high expectations for Trump.

"The results haven't held up to the hope," said one former Border Patrol union official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. "The agents thought they were going to be the belles at the ball [under the Trump administration]. Trump is not delivering." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

3:45 p.m.

Game of Thrones and Veep should come out of Tuesday's Emmy nominations announcement ready to dominate this fall.

The two HBO series that ended in recent months are already favorites to win in the top categories of Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series respectively at September's show. But experts on the awards website Gold Derby also see Better Call Saul, Killing Eve, Ozark, Pose, Succession, and This Is Us as series likely to join Game of Thrones in the drama category, while the comedy category should be rounded out by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Barry, as well as Fleabag, GLOW, The Good Place, The Kominsky Method, and possibly Russian Doll.

Fleabag may have been snubbed during its first season, but star Phoebe Waller-Bridge is thought to have a shot at a lead actress in a comedy series nod, although Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a shoo-in to win, with Russian Doll's Natasha Lyonne also potentially joining her. Jim Carrey, Michael Douglas, and Don Cheadle may also join past nominees like Barry's Bill Hader in the lead comedy actor category, and Jim Parsons could receive recognition for The Big Bang Theory's last season.

On the drama side, Thrones' Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke should be nominated in the lead actor categories after previously being snubbed, although some experts, including those at Vanity Fair, predict Harington will be left out in the Winterfell cold again as Succession's Brian Cox, Pose's Billy Porter, and Bodyguard's Richard Madden instead get nods.

Still, the Thrones cast should fare well overall, and some prognosticators believe Sophie Turner will score a nod in the supporting actress category alongside repeat nominees from the series. The show isn't expected to take much of a hit despite the divisive nature of its final season, but we'll get a better sense of its reception among voters when the nominations' are unveiled on July 16. Brendan Morrow

3:25 p.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney's (R-Utah) has thoughts on President Trump's tweets — after the equivalent of a few commercial breaks.

Trump tweeted a racist attack on four Democratic congressmembers on Sunday, which was met with quick condemnation from Democrats and slower, more tepid condemnation from some Republican lawmakers. Romney joined the fray Monday and told NBC10 Boston that he felt "a number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America."

But of course, readers were itching for more from the former GOP presidential nominee, who's been a frequent spurn to the president since he entered office this year. So NBC10 Boston's Alison King tweeted out this quote and cliffhanger.

Outrage promptly ensued over the traditional local "tonight at five" hook. But after a brutal 15 minutes, King obliged and tweeted out Romney's response to the question of racism a few hours early. Spoiler alert: It was a big nothingburger. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:01 p.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) wants to shake up the current state of U.S. labor law, which often overlooks a crucial part of the country's workforce.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate announced on Monday that she is introducing the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, a first-of-its-kind piece of legislation that, if passed, would provide legal protections and benefits to millions of people who work as nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers, who are often immigrants and women of color. Currently, these professions have few federal protections and benefit guarantees.

"The courageous working-class women, women of color, and immigrant women who are demanding their rights today are unwilling to be excluded any longer," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who is co-sponsoring the bill, said. "When domestic workers win everyone wins."

The protections and benefits — such as sick days and fair scheduling — would reportedly be enforced through grants to organizations that represent domestic workers. Additionally, the bill would address issues like health care, retirement, and workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.

However, the bill's ultimate fate might be to serve as method of changing the debate around labor laws. The National Domestic Workers Alliance reportedly does not expect it to pass on the first try because of the majority-Republican Senate.

The bill reportedly received input from domestic workers for the last two years. Read more at Fast Company. Tim O'Donnell

1:48 p.m.

Joe Biden's anti-busing stance was a lot harsher than he's previously been willing to admit.

The former vice president's opposition to federally mandated busing to integrate schools during his early senatorial career hit the mainstream in last month's Democratic primary debates, when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) revealed how she'd benefited from busing as a child. That sparked the The New York Times' deep dive into "how Joe Biden became the Democrats' anti-busing crusader," which, published Monday, digs up a slew of anti-busing quotes from Biden's long political record.

Biden has tied his long civil rights record into his presidential campaign, and some black leaders in Wilmington, Delaware praised Biden for it. Yet he also "promoted nearly a dozen pieces of legislation" aimed at limiting federal busing programs, and despite his claims otherwise, outright said "I oppose busing" in 1975, the Times reports. And in 1977, Biden made a particularly questionable argument against using busing to achieve integration.

The quote comes from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the "busing of schoolchildren," during which Biden vehemently argued for a bill that would remove a U.S. court's power to "issue school transportation orders based on race, color, or national origin," per a congressional summary. Biden said part of the bill's goal was to ensure "orderly integration" with agreement between Congress and federal courts.

Biden at the June Democratic debate forcefully said he opposed federal busing but supported its use in individual school districts. That contradicts Biden's June assurance that he has "always been in favor of using federal authority to overcome state-initiated segregation." Read more about Biden's anti-busing record at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:30 p.m.

President Trump on Monday continued to defend his tweets telling four minority congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from as the House of Representatives planned to vote on a resolution condemning the remarks.

Trump during an event on Monday said that the congresswomen he targeted in the tweet, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), "in my opinion hate our country" and that "if they're not happy here, they can leave." Trump also said that the congresswomen "have to love our country." Asked if he's concerned about his tweets being seen as racist, including by white supremacists, Trump said he's not.

"It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me," Trump said.

Trump spoke shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House will consider a resolution condemning Trump's tweets, encouraging Republicans to join with Democrats in voting for it.

"The House cannot allow the president's characterization of immigrants to our country to stand," Pelosi said, The Hill reports. "Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the President's xenophobic tweets." Some GOP lawmakers have begun to push back on Trump's remarks, the latest being Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who in a statement on Monday afternoon said Trump's comments were "way out of line" and "he should take that down." Brendan Morrow

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