House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul signaled on Sunday that House Republicans will demand various policy changes in exchange for approving some emergency funding to respond to the crisis at the southwestern border. [...] "Our view, I think, as House Republicans, is, look, we're not going to write a blank check," McCaul said on "Fox News Sunday."
President Obama's proposal for the border crisis wouldn't magically resolve the situation overnight, but by any fair evaluation, it'd make a big difference. The White House is requesting $3.7 billion in emergency funding that would build detention centers, add immigration judges, and beef up border security, all while expediting deportations that will hopefully discourage an additional influx. There's even money for an ad campaign in the relevant countries.
We know congressional Republicans have rejected the plan for reasons they haven't fully explained, just as we know there is no official GOP alternative, at least not yet. But there's a specific way in which Republicans have rejected the package that stands out as interesting.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also said, "What [the president] appears to be asking for is a blank check."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) added, "I'll tell you this, we're not giving the president a blank check."
I think we can safely guess what phrase appeared in the official GOP talking points.
But to once again borrow Inigo Montoya's line, Republicans keep using that phrase, but I don't think it means what they think it means.
If the Obama administration is looking for a specific, emergency funding measure to address the crisis, it's not a "blank check." In fact, just using regular ol' English, it's the opposite: a blank check, by definition, doesn't have an amount written on it. The president's proposal has requested a fairly specific amount: $3.7 billion.
If the GOP wants to contest that figure, great. If they want to put together an alternative package with a different price tag, no problem. But to keep using the "blank check" talking point really doesn't make any sense.
What's more, this isn't the first time. Over the last few years, whenever it's time to raise the debt ceiling, congressional Republicans pretend to be outraged by the White House's request for a "blank check." Again, extending the borrowing authority of the federal government, paying for the stuff Congress has already bought, isn't evidence of a blank check. The argument is plainly gibberish.
Dear GOP, pick a new phrase. You don't seem to know what this one means.