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WaPo slaps Biden WH with 'three Pinocchios,' knocks 'spin' that House GOP voted to cut Border Patrol agents

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler took aim at the Biden White House for its repeated claim that House Republicans voted to "eliminate 2,000 Border Patrol agents."

The Washington Post slapped the Biden White House with three "Pinocchios" over claims it had made about GOP lawmakers bearing some responsibility over the migrant crisis at the border, chalking it up as "spin."

On Friday, the Post's chief fact-checker Glenn Kessler took White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and deputy press secretary Andrew Bates to task over their repeated assertions that House Republicans voted last May to "eliminate 2,000 Border Patrol agents" as the country continues seeing a record number of border crossings.

"But there is a big problem with this number," Kessler wrote. "It’s not based on an actual vote on the Homeland Security budget. Instead, it’s a White House estimate on the impact of a bill the House passed in 2023 as an opening bid in budget talks with the Biden administration. When it came to an actual vote for border security, the House in September passed an appropriations bill that funded an additional 1,795 Border Patrol agents. That was four times the increase (350 agents) that President Biden had requested in his own 2024 budget proposal." 

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Kessler explained that the bill in question was the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which he described was "vague" legislation from House Republicans on what specifically would be cut from the spending bill. And that Biden officials "saw the House bill’s vagueness as an opportunity to go on the attack."

"With defense off the table, Republicans essentially would have needed to double the cuts in nondefense discretionary spending to achieve the $1.5 trillion annual spending target," Kessler told readers. "The White House assumed that required a 22 percent reduction in spending across all other agencies, such as Homeland Security. As a result, the administration calculated, the size of the Border Patrol would need to be slashed by 2,000 through layoffs, attrition and furloughs to meet the 22 percent target. If Republicans wanted to spare Border Patrol as they did the military, then the cuts would increase elsewhere in the government."

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Regarding the "Pinocchio Test," Kessler called the administration's narrative a "classic Washington game to misleadingly cite a lawmaker’s past votes... But the White House is going too far here."

"By harking back to last May’s vote that promised spending cuts with no specifics, the White House is ignoring a deal cut by the president and then a vote for an actual spending bill," Kessler said. "White House officials suggest the original bill still represents House Republican aspirations…. Past votes can certainly be fair game and White House officials generally are careful to note they are referring to a vote that took place last May. But such nuances may be lost on Americans not conversant with the federal budget. House Republicans once may have backed a tough budget plan but they never cast a vote that specified they would cut 2,000 Border Patrol agents; instead, they have voted to increase the total by nearly 2,000. That’s spin worthy of Three Pinocchios."

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The White House doubled down on its claims.

"As Speaker Johnson wrote after voting for the ‘Limit, Save, Grow Act,’ ‘House Republicans just passed a bill to… usher in the largest spending cuts in American history,'" Bates told Fox News Digital. "Those cuts would have cost over 2,000 Border Patrol agents their jobs and undermined our ability to combat fentanyl trafficking. Far from retracting their support for the ‘Limit, Save, Grow Act,’ House Republicans still tout that vote as representative of their agenda and principles. The House GOP have also introduced even more legislation that would eliminate Border Patrol agents, including in September." 

Bates continued: "House Republicans continue to block the additional border security funding that President Biden has stressed the urgency of since August – the same month that a number of their colleagues proposed defunding the entire Department of Homeland Security. If they would like to now disown the ‘Limit, Save, Grow Act’ today, we’ll be the first to congratulate them on their reversal." 

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