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September 19, 2014

Freshman Democrat Invites Speaker to Southwest Border

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Gallego has invited Boehner to the border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama isn’t the only high-profile politician who hasn’t felt a need to visit the U.S.-Mexico border yet.

On Tuesday, Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman suggested that his boss, too, was for the time being plenty well-versed on the issues that culminated in last Friday’s party-line vote on $694 million legislation to address the crisis caused by the child migrant surge.

“The Speaker has heard from many, including our Border Working Group led by Texas Rep. Kay Granger, about the humanitarian crisis on our southern border. That’s why the House acted last week on legislation to provide needed relief and begin to fix the problems,” said the Ohio Republican’s spokesman, Michael Steel. “At this point, President Obama should call Senate Democrats back to Washington to act, too.”

Steel’s statement came swiftly in response to a CQ Roll Call inquiry about a press release from the office of freshman Democrat Pete Gallego of Texas, who has sent Boehner a written invitation to come down and see the crisis first-hand.

“Because you, as the first among equals in the people’s House, have more influence than most in the legislative process, I invite you to come to the Texas-Mexico border to join me in speaking to community leaders and the dedicated law enforcement working to protect our borders every day,” Gallego wrote. “This will give you an in-person view as well as firsthand, non-partisan and unvarnished representations of what is occurring on the border.”

Gallego said that a visit would be beneficial to bolstering Boehner’s understanding of the complexities of the situation and perhaps lead to more collaborative tackling of the issues at stake back on Capitol Hill after the conclusion of the five-week August recess.

“Based on the proposals produced for House consideration last week, it’s clear that there was no bipartisanship involved in crafting the bills laid before the House. It’s also clear that there is a basic misunderstanding of both the core causes of this crisis and a clear strategy to address it,” Gallego wrote.

He went on: “Throughout your tenure in the House, you have earned a reputation as a legislator who can find common ground in the most difficult of circumstances. I ask you to use that experience to guide the House towards a real and reasonable resolution of the border’s current situation.”

Dozens of lawmakers made trips to the southwest border region during the last several weeks as debate on the child migrant crisis reached a fever pitch. Members — Democrats and Republicans — claimed their visits gave them some authority to speak about the politics of the situation. Those who spoke about the situation without having made a recent trek out there were often criticized for ignorance.

Obama, in Texas on a fundraising trip last month, was slammed by those in both parties for not visiting the border first-hand while he was already in the state. Gallego, incidentally, was not one of them.

“The President’s presence along the border would create an unneeded distraction by diverting law enforcement and other resources at a critical time,” he said in a statement at the time. “We don’t need photo ops, we need action. The ball is in Congress’ court to do this right.”

Gallego echoed those sentiments in his letter to Boehner on Tuesday.

“Many Members of Congress and others from across the country chose to come during the apex of the crisis. They came to the border for a short trip or photo op and proclaimed themselves experts. This is akin to visiting a hurricane while the storm still rages and distracting or attempting to take command of the first responders already on site,” Gallego said. “Now, as the pressure on our border seems to be easing, is a better time to come.”

Read the full text of Gallego’s letter to Boehner here:

August 5, 2014

Dear Mr. Speaker:

Shortly after the House and Senate came together for the first time in a very long time to pass a bipartisan VA reform bill, the House quickly reverted to partisanship to fail the American people once again in its handling of the crisis on the border. The interests and reputation of the House as an institution do not even seem to be a consideration for many members. The reputation of our chamber is at an all-time low.

Our branch of government, the legislative branch, makes laws and controls the power of the purse. It can and should be a force to be reckoned with. However, no party in our House has been “anointed” with any particular mandate. Thus, agreements on thorny issues will not be handed down on tablets from on high. They must be negotiated by Republicans and Democrats willing to sit at the same table at the same time.

I grew up on the border and know it well. The district I represent covers nearly 800 miles of border with Mexico. People along our nation’s border want both safety and security. They also want trade and commerce. And, they desperately want us to come together to solve problems, not divide ourselves and further complicate the challenging issues we already face.

Because you, as the first among equals in the people’s House, have more influence than most in the legislative process, I invite you to come to the Texas-Mexico border to join me in speaking to community leaders and the dedicated law enforcement working to protect our borders every day. This will give you an in-person view as well as firsthand, non-partisan and unvarnished representations of what is occurring on the border.

Many Members of Congress and others from across the country chose to come during the apex of the crisis. They came to the border for a short trip or photo op and proclaimed themselves experts. This is akin to visiting a hurricane while the storm still rages and distracting or attempting to take command of the first responders already on site.

Now, as the pressure on our border seems to be easing, is a better time to come. It has been reported that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border is dropping substantially. An average of 355 unaccompanied children crossed the Rio Grande every day in June. Over the first two weeks of July, this number dropped to an average of 150 migrant children per day.

As I told the White House during a Presidential visit to Texas, we don’t need photo ops; we need bipartisan help. Based on the proposals produced for House consideration last week, it’s clear that there was no bipartisanship involved in crafting the bills laid before the House. It’s also clear that there is a basic misunderstanding of both the core causes of this crisis and a clear strategy to address it.

I was proud of the House when it came together to pass legislation reforming the Veterans Administration. I’d like to be proud of the House as it works to resolve what has been a very difficult issue for law enforcement and all those of us who live along the border. No fiery rhetoric. No inflammatory proposals. Just a common sense approach to solving a problem.

If the argument in the House is that the President cannot or should not take executive action, then someone else has to. It would seem logical that that “someone” should be the leader of the chamber closest to the people.

Throughout your tenure in the House, you have earned a reputation as a legislator who can find common ground in the most difficult of circumstances. I ask you to use that experience to guide the House towards a real and reasonable resolution of the border’s current situation.

I represent approximately 42 percent of the entire U.S./Mexico border. I stand ready to share my experiences on the border and the perspective of the people I represent in order to address these critical issues. I hope you take me up on my offer to come visit.

Sincerely,

Pete P. Gallego

 

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  • A Semper Fi Marine

    Ya don”t need to lift the lid off a garbage can, to know there”s trash insde

  • DonQuixote109

    Representative Gallego sounds like a reasonable individual – cogent, concise, clear. He understands the vitriol and rhetoric from Capitol Hill well.

    I hope Mr. Boehner accepts this invitation, and goes in a low-key, true fact gathering manner.

  • DonQuixote109

    Representative Gallego sounds like a reasonable individual – cogent, concise, clear. He understands the vitriol and rhetoric from Capitol Hill well.

    I hope Mr. Boehner accepts this invitation, and goes in a low-key, true fact gathering manner.

  • Yupper56

    Boehner, ha. They have something on him.
    The guy needs to go.

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    A brief overview of the third-world diseases imported by illegal aliens: http://tinyurl.com/kghy6vh

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