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WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. John Cornyn had been hopeful that the flood of children from Central America across the southern border meant Congress could reach a rare and quick bipartisan deal: President Obama would get some of the $3.7 billion he has requested to deal with the crisis and Republicans would win policy changes speeding up deportation procedures.

With just two weeks to go until members of Congress are scheduled to leave town for a five-week August recess, the No. 2-ranking Republican in the Senate no longer sounds so optimistic.

"The consequences of failing to act are going to be relatively serious," Cornyn, the Senate minority whip, said on Capital Download. "But as you may have noticed, Congress is polarized, and not a lot gets done."

He predicts the Republican-controlled House will pass a measure this week that includes some of the policy changes in a bill he drafted with Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. But Cornyn questions whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will bring the legislation up for a vote, given Democratic opposition to changing a 2008 law that gives the children special protections before they can be deported.

Indeed, in remarks on the Senate floor Monday, Reid castigated Cornyn's proposal. "The bill put forward by the senior senator from Texas implements a process that will send these children back to dangerous places without some minimal concern for their health and well-being," Reid said. He said it would "prevent any meaningful hearing process for these migrant children," a charge Cornyn disputes.

"The president can listen to the political advisers who tell him 'you can't go there, Mr. President,' and do nothing," Cornyn said on USA TODAY's weekly video newsmaker series, noting that he and other Republicans would refuse to appropriate emergency funding without the policy changes. "If he wants to do something ... then this is the package that we need to act on."

Obama's record in dealing with the immigration crisis is "pretty abysmal," the senator says. And the president's decision not to visit the border when he was visiting Dallas and Austin this month "strikes me as just fundamentally arrogant and irresponsible."

Cornyn says he hasn't given up on passing a compromise bill. To that end, he wants to put aside for now the proposal by his fellow Texas senator, firebrand Ted Cruz, to rescind Obama's 2012 executive action giving interim legal standing to some young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

"What I'm looking for is a way to try to thread this needle in this short, two-week period now before the August recess," he says. "It's the art of the possible. I'm for getting that done, and we'll leave the rest of immigration reform" for later.

If Congress can't act when the situation seems to be in crisis, he adds, "it doesn't bode well for our ability to do any immigration reform" next year.

Cornyn says "Obama fatigue" will help Republicans score the net gain of six seats the GOP needs to take control of the Senate in the November midterms.

And when it comes to 2016, he says his home-state governor apparently learned some helpful lessons from his bollixed bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Perry was in Iowa last week, the latest in a series of trips to key states that seem designed to test a 2016 repeat.

In watching Perry this time around, Cornyn says, "I'm thinking that there are second chances in life, including political life."

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