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Week In Politics: Biden Rejects Migrants; Funding Bill Work; Jan. 6 Supporters Gather

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I'm going to turn now to Washington, D.C., and NPR's Deirdre Walsh, who covers Congress. Deirdre, thanks so much for being with us this week.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: We just heard about surging personnel and resources to the thousands and thousands of Haitian migrants camped near the border. There are some other steps this morning we're learning about, too.

WALSH: We are. We're learning that the Biden administration is planning to send planeloads of these Haitian migrants back to their home country. That's according to reporting from The Associated Press and The Washington Post. We just heard about immigration officials being overwhelmed. And this deportation effort is really a strategy to discourage more from coming from Haiti. Haitian officials, according to reporting, are prepared to accept at least three flights a day. And we could see those start this weekend.

SIMON: Certainly, there's vigilance about the demonstrations planned in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol today, people marching in support of those people being prosecuted for attacking Congress and the vice president on January 6. Security situation at the Capitol looks very different than it did on January 6 today, doesn't it?

WALSH: It really does. There's a new head of the Capitol Police. Federal and local law enforcement agencies have learned a lot from what happened on January 6. There are better information-sharing systems in place, better training in place. The Defense Department has authorized the National Guard troops to be at the ready.

But I should stress we're not really expecting to see anything like what we saw on January 6. Congress is not in session today. Lawmakers were advised to stay away. There aren't any members of Congress planning to participate or speak at this rally. The activists that are in town are protesting the treatment of those detained related to the January 6 riot. But these were not peaceful protesters. I mean, the government has already brought criminal charges against more than 600 people, and those charges range from violent or illegal entry to assault, to even conspiracy.

I think the thing that's notable is Republican leaders have largely been silent about this event, and that really shows how much the party is still really being led by former President Donald Trump.

SIMON: And in line with this, a House Republican who has certainly been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party said this week he's not running for reelection and kind of cited Donald Trump as the reason. Tell us about Anthony Gonzalez.

WALSH: He did. Ohio Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump after the insurrection. He announced he's not running for reelection. That's actually surprising. I mean, we're in a year when Republicans really feel like they're on track to retake control of Congress in the midterm elections. So it's rare that someone decides not to run. But Trump had backed his primary - one of his primary opponents. I mean, this was a member who was held up by his leadership as a top recruit when he first entered Congress. He's a former NFL player. He's Cuban American.

But he said his decision really hinged on the sort of family and security concerns he's received since his vote to impeach Trump. He told The New York Times he thought the former president was, quote, "a cancer on the country." And he just didn't want to be part of a House Republican conference that's going to be led by Trump loyalists.

SIMON: Deirdre, lots for Congress to do this week. Please take us through the list.

WALSH: Yeah, it's a long list, and it's really not a lot of time to get stuff done. They are racing to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, so we expect Congress to vote on a stopgap funding bill. They also need to raise the debt limit probably by mid-October. This is the authority that Congress gives the Treasury Department to borrow money and keep federal agencies going.

But the big-ticket item that they're still struggling with - Democratic leaders, I should say - is this massive $3.5 trillion spending bill that represents President Biden's agenda. This is health care, expanded pre-K, free community college. And immigration is part of that debate, too. Democrats want to include a path to citizenship as part of that debate. But it's unclear under the rules they're using to avoid a Republican filibuster if they're going to be able to do that. And obviously, the situation on the border means that debate is going to be even more contentious.

SIMON: NPR's Deirdre Walsh, good to have you along with us this weekend. Thank you.

WALSH: Thanks for having me, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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