The White House urged congressional Republicans on Friday to take “urgent action” on passing supplemental funding to address the flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
The comments from the White House followed signals from key House lawmakers who questioned the size of the $3.7 billion package.
“But again, I think the question really here is the time frame. Are Republicans going to act with a sense of urgency? Their rhetoric certainly indicates they're feeling a sense of urgency. I think the question is if they're willing to back up that rhetoric with some action.”
Earlier Friday, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters the president's $3.7 billion request was “too much,” but stopped short of proposing a Republican alternative. Rogers did signal the House would try to pass some sort of legislation before leaving for the August recess.
Earnest sidestepped questions about whether a lower amount would be sufficient to address the crisis, which has seen more than 50,000 unaccompanied children captured crossing the border in recent months.
The White House spokesman dismissed a call from Texas Gov. Rick Perry to immediately deploy National Guardsmen to the border, saying Republicans concerned about the crisis should instead support the supplemental legislation.
“What it would do is it would be an enduring solution,” Earnest said. “Sending a thousand National Guardsmen to the border is not an enduring solution. That is almost by definition temporary.”
Earnest also defended the president's argument that he hadn't visited the border during his trip to Texas earlier this week because he “wasn't interested in photo ops.” Republicans have seized on the comment, pointing out other publicity-seeking events the present has engaged in.
“His view is that solving problems is most important, and solving problems is what someone who is exhibiting leadership is focused on,” Earnest said.
Earnest said Obama could use photo ops like a recent trip to Warsaw, Poland, to reassure allies about the situation in Ukraine — indicating that the administration did not see the border as offering the same possibility.
“There's no doubt that a presidential appearance somewhere sends a very important message about the president's priorities,” Earnest said.