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House Dems seeking re-election seemingly reverse course, call on Biden to 'bring order to the southern border'

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House Dems seeking re-election seemingly reverse course, call on Biden to 'bring order to the southern border'

Five vulnerable Democrats who voted against measures to strengthen border security in the past have seemingly changed their tune as they seek re-election to their posts in the lower chamber.

Following President Biden’s signing of a $95 billion package with aid to both Ukraine and Israel last week, five Democrats – Reps. Jared Golden of Maine, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington, Mary Peltola of Alaska, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Don Davis of North Carolina – released a joint statement agreeing with calls for Congress and the president to “act and bring order to the southern border.”

“Beyond defending our allies, we strongly agree with the National Border Patrol Council that Congress and the President must act and bring order to the Southern border,” the lawmakers stated. “That is why we also voted for H.R. 3602 on Saturday, and why we all voted last month for $19.6 billion for Border Patrol so that it could ramp up its efforts to secure the border.”

The comments from the five Democrats – three of whom (Golden, GluesenKamp, and Davis) are engaged in tough re-election battles that have been labeled “toss up” races by the Cook Political Report, and another two (Peltola and Gonzalez) competing in races labeled “lean Democrat” – came after each one of them voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023.

VULNERABLE HOUSE DEMS DO A U-TURN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AFTER CALLING CRISIS ‘NON-EXISTENT THREAT’

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Five House Democrats – Reps. Jared Golden of Maine, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington, Mary Peltola of Alaska, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Don Davis of North Carolina – released a statement last week agreeing with calls for Congress and President Biden to “act and bring order to the southern border.” (Getty Images)

That bill, which passed in the House, would have expanded the type of crimes that make someone ineligible for asylum, limited the eligibility to those who arrive at ports of entry, mandated a system similar to the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, and created additional penalties for visa overstay.

In addition to not supporting the Secure the Border Act, the same five Democrats voted on two different occasions against GOP-led efforts to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, whom many Republicans have argued is largely responsible for the migrant crisis at the southern border.

Certain Democrats, like Gluesenkamp Perez, who was first elected to Congress in 2022 and co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition with Golden and Peltola, have made dismissive comments about the border crisis in recent years.

The Washington lawmaker previously faced criticism from Republicans over border-related comments she made in March 2023 during an appearance on Pod Save America, which came prior to the ending of the Title 42 public health order.

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“Listen, nobody stays awake at night worrying about the southern border,” she said at the time. “That’s just not… people stay awake at night worrying that their kid is gonna relapse or that, you know, someone’s going to drop out of school or they’re going to lose their house.”

Gluesenkamp Perez was also one of many Democrats who defended Mayorkas amid calls for his impeachment earlier this year, saying it was “frustrating to see” Republicans push for his ouster because “he doesn’t set policy, he implements it.”

Despite her past remarks, Gluesenkamp Perez has been critical of Biden’s handling of the border crisis in recent months, saying in April that she voted in support of H.R. 3602, which provides for criminal penalties for certain conduct that interferes with U.S. border control measures, because “President Biden has failed to end the crisis at our Southern Border.”

“Every country has an obligation to protect its citizens and secure its sovereign borders, and H.R. 3602 focuses on the urgent need to restore operational control of the Southern Border. Unlike the unworkable and un-American immigration proposals pushed by far-right extremists, this bipartisan bill doesn’t create burdensome government mandates that would harm small businesses, agricultural employers, rural communities, and our economy,” she said at the time.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a member of the congresswoman’s press team insisted that she has “called on the [Biden] Administration her entire time in office to fix the crisis at our Southern Border, and for Congress to do its job to pass meaningful border security legislation.”

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BIDEN ADMIN CONDEMNED FOR CONSIDERING PLANS TO ACCEPT PALESTINIAN REFUGEES: ‘A NATION COMMITTING SUICIDE’

Migrants storm the gate at the border in El Paso

Migrants attempt to enter the U.S. illegally by rushing an opening in the border wall on March 21, 2024. (James Breeden for New York Post / Mega)

The spokesperson also touted the Washington lawmaker’s introduction of the “Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act to restore operational control at the Southern Border by restoring expulsion authority for Border Patrol and requiring the President to reinstate Remain in Mexico,” as well as her support for the End Fentanyl Act.

“Marie continues to urge Congress to get back to work to address the real crisis at our border and end the petty gamesmanship,” the spokesperson said.

Gonzalez is another Democrat who made dismissive remarks prior to the expiration of Title 42, which provided the ability for American officials to bar migrants from entering the country during a health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a July 2023 stop in Edinburgh, Texas, Gonzalez reportedly shot down questions and concern over whether Biden was doing enough to secure the southern border amid an overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants.

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“We have seen major improvements along the border.… If you go to the border now, in our region, it’s pretty unremarkable what you see,” Gonzalez said, according to the Rio Grande Guardian. “When they lifted Title 42 and implemented Title 7, which I advocated against… I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong. What the president did, what Secretary Mayorkas has done, has positively impacted our border and that’s a fact.”

“People could point fingers and say things, but the reality is, undocumented crossings are down by 70%,” he added at the time.

A little more than a week after Gonzalez gave those remarks, the Texas Tribune reported that Border Patrol agents “made more than 130,000 arrests along the Mexico border [in July 2023], preliminary figures show, up from 99,545 in June.”

Gonzalez is one of 154 Democrats who voted this January against the Agent Raul Gonzalez Officer Safety Act, which would have created hefty federal penalties for illegal migrants who evade U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers during motor vehicle pursuits. The measure was named after a Border Patrol officer who died in a vehicle crash in Texas last year during a pursuit.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with asylum-seekers

A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with asylum-seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana, Mexico, on May 8, 2023, in San Diego. (Denis Poroy/AP Newsroom)

Along with Golden and Gluesenkamp Perez, Gonzalez was one of 201 Democrats who voted in July 2023 against the Schools Not Shelters Act, which would have prohibited “the use of the facilities of a public elementary school, a public secondary school, or an institution of higher education to provide shelter for aliens who have not been admitted into the United States, and for other purposes.”

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Peltola joined 218 Republicans in voting in favor of that measure at the time, while Davis did not vote.

“I remain dedicated to addressing the border crisis. However, we must not inflict harm on American agriculture in the process,” Davis said in a statement to Fox. “Initially, I had concerns about the e-verify provision in HR-2, but it was removed, allowing me to fully lend my support, along with just four other Democrats, to H.R. 3602, the Bipartisan End the Border Catastrophe Act.”

Asked whether he believes Biden is responsible for the border crisis, Davis said his “votes speak for themselves.”

CBP records show the first six months of fiscal year 2024 had 1,340,801 total encounters, exceeding the first six months of fiscal year 2023, which set a record of 1,226,254 total encounters.

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Opinion: Will voters get the message that our judicial system is on the 2024 ballot too?

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Opinion: Will voters get the message that our judicial system is on the 2024 ballot too?

Democrats will be lucky to keep control of the U.S. Senate after November’s elections. Yet Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. lately has shown again why that’s imperative: A Republican-run Senate would confirm more far-right ideologues like him to the federal bench if Donald Trump is once again choosing the nominees, or block many of Joe Biden’s picks if the president is reelected.

First for the Alito story: An upside-down U.S. flag flew in his front yard for days in January 2021, the New York Times first reported. That such a thing would happen at any time at a Supreme Court justice’s home is abhorrent. That it did so when the inverted flag served as a banner for the mobs who’d just besieged the Capitol and tried to subvert an election is not only arguably unethical (the Supreme Court was hearing cases related to the Trump-inspired “Stop the Steal” effort, and still is) but downright seditious. No matter if the hoisting was his wife’s doing, as Alito ignobly claimed.

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Jackie Calmes

Jackie Calmes brings a critical eye to the national political scene. She has decades of experience covering the White House and Congress.

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Then on Monday, Chris Geidner, in his Substack publication Law Dork, disclosed that Alito last year appeared to have joined the Bud Light boycott protesting that brand’s advertised support for transgender people.

According to federal disclosure reports that Geidner posted, Alito sold shares in Bud Light’s maker, Anheuser-Busch, at the height of the controversy last summer and bought stock in competitor Molson Coors. The transactions didn’t involve large amounts of money, but here again, cases related to transgender rights were — and are — making their way through the courts to the Supremes.

To make matters worse, on Wednesday, the New York Times reported that another protest flag associated with right-wing, pro-Trump sentiment flew from the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer.

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Alito’s apparent blindness to conflicts of interest and his penchant for peevish shows of right-wing partisanship are second only to those of his Republican-appointed colleague Justice Clarence Thomas, spouse of “Stop the Steal” schemer Ginni Thomas. Both justices reject calls to recuse themselves from pending cases stemming from Jan. 6. Both are complicit in, and perhaps responsible for, the court’s unconscionable delay in deciding whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for his role in the insurrection attempt. We might get its ruling by July, likely too late for a trial before November.

Also, both justices are in their mid-70s. And that’s where political calculations about the Senate come in.

It’s widely believed among court watchers and pundits that Alito and Thomas might well retire if Trump wins another term, so he could nominate much younger versions of themselves who could serve for many more decades to come alongside Trump’s trifecta of 50-somethings: Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Trump could elevate younger judges such as those he tapped for lower federal courts say, 40-something district court judges Aileen Cannon, who helpfully suspended his classified documents trial indefinitely, and Matthew Kacsmaryk, whose ruling outlawing a pill used for most abortions is currently before the Supremes.

A Republican-controlled Senate presumably would fast-track Trump’s high court nominees, and perhaps more than a couple hundred others for the lower federal courts — just as it did the first time around for Trump. A Senate still under Democrats’ control, however, could presumably force a reelected Trump to tap more moderate judicial candidates, and, if he refused, could slow-walk, shelve or reject extremists. Like more Alitos and Thomases.

Lest anyone doubt that Republican senators would be a conveyor belt for right-wing judges under Trump, or a blockade against Biden nominees if he wins a second term, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered a reminder of their MAGA-apologist mindset on Wednesday. When a reporter asked him to weigh in on the Alitos’ flag, McConnell snapped, “I’m not going to dignify that with a response.”

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Talk about misplaced indignation.

More voters, Democrats as well as independents and moderate Republicans who oppose right-wing activists throughout our judiciary, must cast ballots for the Senate as well as for president with the composition of the courts in mind — as conservative voters did for decades, successfully. Democratic candidates, including Biden, are doing more to raise awareness. But it’s not enough. The message has to be explicit, and frequent: The courts are on the ballot too.

A big test is in Democratic-blue Maryland, of all places. Larry Hogan, the popular former governor and probably the only Republican in the state who could get elected to the Senate, last week won his party’s nomination to fill the seat that Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin is giving up. The Democrats have to defend that seat along with those of incumbents in red states Ohio and Montana, and swing states Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The party, with just a two-vote majority now, has already written off the Senate seat that Democrat Joe Manchin III is vacating in Trump-loving West Virginia, so every seat is crucial.

Hogan, a personable pragmatist and Trump critic, appeals to some Maryland Democrats despite his party label, and to moderate Republicans and independents who’ve otherwise soured on the Republican Party in the Trump era. Many of them backed him for governor, and might for senator. To entice them, the former “pro-life” governor has flipped to declare himself a “pro-choice” Senate candidate.

Yet because the Senate stakes are so much bigger than just Maryland, Hogan’s Democratic and other anti-MAGA fans should resist his charms this time. His victory would make it that much more likely that Republicans will capture control of the chamber with power to confirm federal judges and justices. His Democratic opponent, widely respected county executive Angela D. Alsobrooks, shows early signs of hammering that point.

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Her challenge is to get voters who like Hogan to instead think strategically and do their part to help keep the Senate out of MAGA-fied Republicans’ control. The makeup of that other branch of government — the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal bench — could depend on it. That should be the thumb on the scale.

@jackiekcalmes

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Video: Biden Delivers Commencement Address at West Point

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Video: Biden Delivers Commencement Address at West Point

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Biden Delivers Commencement Address at West Point

President Biden called on graduates of the U.S. Military Academy to honor their oath to protect American democracy against threats abroad and — in an indirect reference to former President Donald J. Trump — at home.

Nothing is guaranteed about our democracy in America. Every generation has an obligation to defend it, to protect it, to preserve it, to choose it. Now it’s your turn. On your very first day at West Point, you raised your right hands and took an oath not to a political party, not to a president, but to the Constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And just as this historic institution helped make America free over two centuries ago, and just as generations of West Point graduates have kept us free through every challenge and danger, you must keep us free at this time like none before. I know you can. I know you will.

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PA GOP Senate candidate McCormick completes 67-county tour, trades lying accusations with Casey

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PA GOP Senate candidate McCormick completes 67-county tour, trades lying accusations with Casey

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Dave McCormick, the Republican challenger for Pennsylvania’s coveted U.S. Senate seat, completed a 67-county tour of the Keystone State on Friday. 

It’s not quite the “full Grassley” of presidential politics, when candidates visit all 99 counties ahead of the Iowa caucuses, but with President Biden and former President Trump in a dead-heat for Pennsylvania and the Senate majority in the balance, every point and all 67 counties count.

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After 42,000 miles. McCormick celebrated the last of his 345 stops at an Italian restaurant in Matamoras. In an event on the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day Weekend, he delivered a stump speech to about 30 supporters over pizza and soda.

“I was so excited to be able to plant the flag today because it’s just the demonstrated commitment to being across our great Commonwealth and seeing people in all these communities,” McCormick told Fox News in an exclusive interview after his Pike County stop on Friday. “I think you campaign the way you’re going to be a senator, and I’m going to be a senator that represents all of Pennsylvania, not just the urban areas.” 

McCormick’s opponent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has a two-point edge in the race, according to polling conducted April 28 to May 9 by The New York Times, Siena College and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

McCormick’s campaign milestone comes as a Broad + Liberty report accused Casey of lying about visiting all 67 counties each year. The report used X posts as a metric to tally Casey’s campaign stops across the commonwealth, concluding that Casey only visited 39 counties since January 2023. Based on internal documents obtained by Fox News, Casey visited all 67 counties in 2022, but fell short at 63 counties in 2023. 

CRUCIAL SENATE SHOWDOWN IN KEY BATTLEGROUND STATE OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY AS CASEY, MCCORMICK WIN PRIMARIES

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Dave McCormick, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, records a video along the U.S. – Mexico border after receiving a briefing from officials, in Yuma, Arizona on May 18, 2024.  (Dave McCormick Senate campaign )

A spokesperson for Casey emphasized the importance of quality visits over the quantity of visits and said not all of these campaign stops are posted online. His Senate office tracks the first and last visit to each county every year. For instance, in 2023, Casey visited Lehigh County for the first time on Jan. 6, 2023, and his last visit was on Dec. 21, 2023. And that’s not to say he didn’t visit Lehigh County several times in between. McCormick isn’t convinced.

He said that he visits every county every year,” McCormick told Fox News on Friday. “So, you know, he can show you the evidence. We don’t see any evidence that he visits every county every year.”

To McCormick, the county controversy goes beyond hearsay. He says it’s about showing up for Pennsylvanians all across the commonwealth.

It’s a number of cases where Bob Casey says one thing and does another,” McCormick told Fox News on Friday. “He stands up and says his and Biden’s policies are going to reduce inflation. And then in a room, he gets caught on tape saying, hey, listen, there’s nothing we can do to lower prices. Or he says he’s for policies that ensure that we source from American industries, and then he votes and waives exceptions on them because he and Biden’s policies on EVs aren’t adequately supported by U.S. industry. So time and again, Bob Casey says one thing and does another, and so I don’t think he’s been forthright with the people of Pennsylvania.”

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McCormick, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, consistently ties Casey to President Biden. A day after accepting the Republican nomination, McCormick released an ad slamming Casey for voting with Biden “98 percent” of the time. 

“Bob Casey’s lack of visiting these counties, his lie on this is also representative of why he’s out of step with most Pennsylvanians, and that’s why most Pennsylvanians can’t name a single thing that Bob Casey’s accomplished,” McCormick continued last Friday. “They can’t believe that he’s voted 98% of the time with Joe Biden. So the connection I’m making is the lie on the county visits with his positions being increasingly liberal, increasingly bowing to the progressive left and increasingly out of step with Pennsylvania. That’s the connection.”

Senator Bob Casey speaks during an event

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks during the Inaugural Independence Dinner in Philadelphia, on Nov. 1, 2019.   (Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE IN CRUCIAL RACE IN KEY BATTLEGROUND STATE REPORTS $6.2 MILLION HAUL

Just ahead of the Pennsylvania primary, McCormick was the Senate candidate dodging accusations of lying. A New York Times report found that McCormick embellished details about his upbringing, particularly about growing up on a Pennsylvania farm. McCormick has denied these allegations, his background emblematic of his Senate campaign and a fixture of that stump speech. 

“My folks had a family farm,” McCormick told the group in Pike County Friday. “They lived in town in Bloomsburg. My dad worked at the college, but I baled hay. I trimmed Christmas trees. I was a busboy at the hotel. I was a paperboy with two paper routes. I played football. I wrestled. I hunted.”

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Pennsylvania Democrats have seized every opportunity to call McCormick a liar, accusing McCormick of jet-setting into Pennsylvania to campaign and nicknaming him “Connecticut Dave” for renting a home in Westport, Connecticut. 

“I don’t think he’s been truthful to people about living in Pennsylvania. He lives in Connecticut in a $16 million house,” Casey told Fox News in an exclusive interview in April. “I think this is kind of a pattern of falsely representing something so basic about where you live and where you once lived. I don’t know why he would make reference to his upbringing in a way that wasn’t fully truthful. He has a lot to be proud of. He’s achieved a lot in his life, and he should talk about what he’s achieved instead of trying to create this image that I guess at one point he made reference to being a farmer, which makes no sense at all. I just think you should be truthful and honest with the people that you’re seeking to represent.”

When pressed by Fox News why Pennsylvania voters should trust McCormick’s word over Casey’s, McCormick said he’s not one to shy away from criticism. He’s urging Casey to do the same. 

“I’m a Pennsylvanian, a seventh generation Pennsylvanian,” McCormick said. “I grew up here. I left here to go to the military, to go to West Point, and then to serve in combat. I came back and created jobs, and that’s the background and experience of leadership I’m going to run on. Bob Casey should answer this question. He was clearly caught in a lie. I’m happy to answer any question. And, you know, politics is a contact sport, but I’ll answer any question forthrightly about my background and why I think I’ll serve the people of Pennsylvania well.”

Dave McCormick hauls in $6.2 million the past three months in his bid for Senate in the Keystone State

Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick launches a campaign bus tour, in Lititz, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 10, 2024 (Dave McCormick campaign)

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Meanwhile, Casey’s campaign is trying to flip the script on McCormick. 

“Senator Casey is known for his integrity and what he’s delivered for the Commonwealth, meanwhile Connecticut mega-millionaire David McCormick has been lying about everything from where he lives, to the details of his upbringing, to his record of investing millions in Chinese military companies,” Kate Smart, a spokesperson for Casey for Senate, shared with Fox News on Friday. 

With five months until the general election, there’s no sign of the mudslinging (or the campaign bus) slowing down for these Pennsylvania candidates.

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