On Monday, as expected, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced in Austin that he plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico, to be a "force multiplier" for Operation Strong Safety, a state operation Perry initiated last month that includes sending state troopers to the border to help local law enforcement deal with an influx of Central American children and families in recent months. Processing and housing the children and teenagers has tied up U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The deployment of National Guard troops will cost an estimated $12 million a month, on top of the $1.3 million Texas is already spending on its state operation each week. Perry didn't say how he planned to pay for that, though state officials at his press conference said they'll ask the federal government to pick up the bill.
It's also not clear what exactly the 1,000 National Guard troops will do in the Rio Grande Valley. "If we were asked to, we could detain people," Texas Adjutant Gen. John Nichols said at Perry's briefing. "But we're not planning on that. We're planning on referring and deterring." A Texas National Guard spokeswoman later added that the guard forces "will not exceed their authorities," and will be operating under the "umbrella" of the state police.
State and local law enforcement can't detain people based solely on their immigration status, but they can tell the Border Patrol about people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally.
The Obama White House says it is open to deploying National Guard troops for humanitarian purposes as part of the president's $3.7 billion border package proposal. But it doesn't seem too excited about the idea as a standalone plan and suggested that Perry is motivated by political concerns at least as much as public safety. Perry, widely expected to run for president again in 2016, spent last weekend in Iowa, his fourth visit to the first-presidential-contest state in eight months. Here's an excerpt from Perry's announcement:
And below is a brief analysis from The Wall Street Journal. --Peter Weber
The mother of Dylan Klebold, one of two boys who killed 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999, gave her first televised interview Friday. Speaking to ABC's Diane Sawyer, Sue Klebold said she missed warning signs her son was depressed.
"I think we like to believe that our love and our understanding is protective, and that 'if anything were wrong with my kids, I would know,' but I didn't know, and I wasn't able to stop him from hurting other people," she said.
Klebold's interview, which you can watch here, comes as she promotes her Feb. 15 memoir, A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. Julie Kliegman
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev criticized the West for worsening relations with his nation over the conflict in Syria, USA Today reports.
"NATO's attitude toward Russia remains unfriendly and opaque, and one could go so far as to say we have slid back to a new Cold War," he said at a high-level security conference Saturday. "Sometimes I wonder if it is the year 2016 or 1962."
Medvedev disputed a widely held belief that Russian planes have bombed civilians in Syria, The Guardian reports. At the same conference, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of a political solution to Syria's five-year civil war, rather than resorting to violence. Julie Kliegman
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will testify before a congressional committee on the Flint water crisis, the Detroit Free Press reports his office said Friday. In the hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, Snyder is expected to speak to what has happened in the city since it switched to lead pipes for tap water in 2014 and what reforms he recommends.
"The people of Flint have suffered because they were failed by all levels of government, and so it is understandable that there are questions at all levels of government," Snyder said in a statement. "In Michigan we are learning a great deal from this crisis and I am hopeful the federal government also will use this as an opportunity to examine health and safety protections in place, assess infrastructure needs, and avoid this type of crisis in the future."
On Thursday, Snyder had called U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and asked to testify. Julie Kliegman
On Friday, New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejía made Major League Baseball history by becoming the first player to be permanently banned from the league for using performance-enhancing drugs. This marks Mejía's third positive test for PED use in a single calendar year, after he failed a drug test in April 2015 and then another three months later. The Mets said in a statement they were "deeply disappointed" in Mejía, who can apply for reinstatement to the MLB in one year, but would have to sit out a minimum of two years before returning to major league action. Kimberly Alters
On Friday afternoon, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced the suspension of his campaign for president. Although, one could be forgiven forgetting he was even in the race — the long-shot Republican candidate's decision comes after dismal performances in both the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus, where he received the support of a measly 12 caucusgoers.
Gilmore's fellow GOP hopefuls Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina also dropped out of the race earlier this week after poor showings in New Hampshire.
And then there were six. Stephanie Talmadge
A Pennsylvania judge posted a sign outside his courtroom reminding citizens that pajama bottoms should not be worn in court. Judge Craig Long said that too many people have been appearing before him without bothering to put on a proper pair of pants. "We have a growing problem of people not dressing appropriately," Long said. "It's just there as a reminder."
With House Republicans still divided on how to move forward with plans to pass the budget, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reminded lawmakers Friday that there's always the option to just skip the budget altogether. "It would be a shame, but the sky won't fall if we don't do a budget," Ryan said to members at a closed-door meeting. Because of a two-year deal struck last fall between then-Speaker John Boehner and the Obama administration, Ryan contends Congress is not "staring down a cliff" that would force them to make a final call.
However, Ryan warned members, this choice would not come without repercussions. If House Republicans decided against doing a budget, Ryan said the Republican Party would essentially be missing out on a chance to "do big things" in 2017. The GOP would not be able to present their fiscal solutions to the public ahead of the presidential election, nor would they be able to pass all 12 appropriations bills, essentially forcing Congress back into its "crisis-driven cycle of passing spending bills" that Ryan has been trying to avoid, The Hill reports.
Republicans are at an impasse over the prospect of passing a budget that sticks to the previously agreed upon $1.07 trillion spending level. Others are pushing for increased military spending, which Ryan pointed out could only increase by $40 million within current spending levels. "Are House Republicans willing to give up appropriations bills, a balanced budget, entitlement reform, and reconciliation for $40 million?" Ryan asked Friday.
House Republicans have until the beginning of March to reach a decision on how to proceed with the budget plan. Becca Stanek