Election year politics threaten the two parties’ border agreement

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Senate negotiators are racing to finalize a national security spending bill, which they hope can simultaneously fund Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and provide legislative solutions to slow the flow of migrants at the southern border. However, fresh criticism from former President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders on Monday threatened to derail efforts that the White House accuses them of treating like a “political football.”

Trump said on Monday that “the border bill is not necessary,” criticizing the ongoing negotiations.

“They are using this horrific Senate bill as a way to be able to put the border debacle on Republicans’ shoulders,” Trump said. “Democrats broke the border, and they need to fix it.” He posted it on his social network.

On Saturday, at a campaign rally in Nevada, the Republican presidential candidate appeared to brag about his efforts to repeal the bill.

“As leader of our party, there is no chance that I will support this horrific betrayal of America across open borders. It will not happen,” Trump said. “I noticed a lot of senators trying to say — respectfully, they’re blaming me, and I’d say that’s OK, please blame me, please — because they were preparing to pass a very bad bill.”

As Trump grew stronger in his opposition to the bill, many Republicans in Congress lined up behind him — even though they had not even seen the bill. Some Republicans have made clear they don’t want to give Biden a political win in the run-up to the November election.

He added: “Biden’s people admit they don’t want to secure the border. What they want is bipartisan support for a bill in the Senate that they know is dead in the House.” “And he would never enforce it anyway,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., posted on X. “Then he can keep the border open and blame the House GOP for it.”

The deal, reached by Sens. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., would require the Department of Homeland Security to close the border virtually, according to sources. If the number of migrant crossings exceeds 5,000 per day in any given week or if average daily encounters reach the threshold of 4,000 per day during a one-week period.

Photo: Senator James Lankford speaks with reporters outside the chamber at the Capitol in Washington, January 25, 2024.

Senator James Lankford speaks with reporters outside the chamber at the Capitol in Washington, January 25, 2024.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

But some sources familiar with the negotiations deny that the draft law will allow thousands of migrants to enter the country every day. A source familiar with the draft law said that the number that leads to the closure of borders depends on the capacity. When there is no capacity within the province to detain immigrants, the border closure authority will be activated. The authority remains in place until the percentage of crossings decreases to 75% of the activated number.

Lankford She appeared on Fox News on Sunday To defend the expulsion against attacks from his colleagues and clarify the transit numbers of migrants. He called the assertion by some Republicans that the bill would allow 5,000 illegal crossings per day “the most misunderstood section of this proposal.”

“They’re still waiting to be able to read the bill on this. That’s been our big challenge of being able to fight through the final words, so we can get the text of the bill out so people can hear it,” Lankford said on Fox. News Sunday. “Right now, online rumors are all people are talking about. It would be completely ridiculous for me to agree to 5,000 people a day. This bill focuses on reducing illegal crossings to zero per day. There is no amnesty.”

However, Lankford acknowledged the changing political realities that make passing the bill very difficult.

“It’s interesting that Republicans, four months ago, wouldn’t give funding to Ukraine, Israel and our southern border because we demanded policy changes. So, we actually put our arms together and said, ‘We’re not going to give,'” Lankford said. “We want to change the law.”

“And now, it’s interesting, a few months later, when we finally get to the end, they say, ‘Oh, just kidding, I actually don’t want to change the law because of a presidential election year,'” he added.

Even if the bill is approved in the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson, who speaks regularly with Trump, said the deal appears “dead on arrival” in the House.

Photo: House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Los Angeles, delivers a statement to reporters, January 12, 2024, at the Capitol in Washington.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Los Angeles, delivers a statement to reporters on January 12, 2024, at the Capitol in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

On Saturday, Johnson moved further away from the bipartisan bill as he responded to President Joe Biden, who said in a statement on Friday that he would use the new powers granted in the bipartisan bill to “close the border” on “the day I sign the bill.” . Bill into law.”

Johnson said in a statement, “President Biden falsely claimed yesterday that he needs Congress to pass a new law that allows him to close the southern border, but he knows that this is not true.” “According to reports, the pending Senate proposal would explicitly allow up to 150,000 illegal crossings each month (1.8 million annually) before any new ‘shutdown’ authority could be used. At that point, America will have already given up.”

During Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused Johnson of making the Senate’s bipartisan border negotiations a “political football,” arguing that a deal would take action on the border and “that’s exactly what should be done.” [House Republicans have] “It was requested.”

“It seems like the speaker wants to make this political, a political football, right? It’s like a hot potato. They don’t want to stick to it,” Jean-Pierre said.

The bipartisan bill, as drafted, would give Biden and any future president greater authority to regulate the border, though many Republicans insist that Biden is currently failing to use the powers he has already been given.

Jean-Pierre said on Monday that the deal being discussed includes new “enforcement tools” that do not currently exist.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will ultimately have to help deal with the bill. The support of McConnell, a staunch advocate of aid to Ukraine, was a key element in tying the border package to money allocated to Ukraine in the first place. A decline in support for the border package could also jeopardize future aid to Ukraine.

Republicans supporting the bill have long maintained that they need a strong bipartisan showing to pass the bill through the House with any hope of passage.

McConnell faces the challenge of seeing whether he can move forward without the support of a majority of Senate Republicans. Right now, it’s unclear whether the legislation can even get the 60 votes it would need for House approval, as some progressive Democrats are likely to oppose it as well.

It’s not yet clear exactly whether or not the border legislation might make it through the chamber once it’s eventually enacted.

ABC News’ Lale Epsa, Soren Kim and Molly Nagel contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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