Border deal negotiations sidelined by GOP partisanship

Attempts to negotiate a bipartisan deal that would effectively shut down the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for an aid package to Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine continue to be undermined by Republicans loyal to former President Donald Trump, who sees such efforts as a potential blow to reelection. 

As currently constituted, the bill would distribute $106 billion in foreign aid to the three crucial geopolitical allies, and, in turn, require the U.S. border to be closed if illegal crossing exceeded 5,000 in a given day. It also aims to expedite the asylum process for the thousands of migrants invoking their international rights. 

“A bipartisan bill would be good for America and help fix our broken immigration system and allow speedy access for those who deserve to be here, and Congress needs to get it done,” President Joe Biden said over the weekend. 

“It’ll also give me as president, the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control. If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.”

But GOP lawmakers, who spent much of last year calling for a further militarization of the border, are now resisting such an arrangement. While House Speaker Mike Johnson and other Republican officials did meet with White House staff last week to discuss the arbitration, no deal was reached. And it appears that Trump might be putting his thumb on the scale in order to heighten anxiety surrounding immigration — a tool he has used to garner support from both his base and nonpartisan voters alike. 

"I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people, many from parts unknown, into our once great, but soon to be great again, Country!" Trump said earlier this month in a post on his personalized social media platform, Truth Social. 

"Also, I have no doubt that our wonderful Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson will only make a deal that is PERFECT ON THE BORDER."

And his strategy appears to be working: Today, several key lawmakers like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are now trying to simply appropriate funds for Ukraine and Israel without the conditional border legislation. 

And Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is now calling the original 5,000-person cap on the border too lax and the allowance of parole — which, in this case, means allowing certain workers without visas to live and work in the U.S. — a dangerous policy. 

“What we need to make certain we do is focus on an agreement that the House and the Senate can agree to. When you talk about allowing a certain number of people to pass across the border between the ports of entry that is illegal immigration,” Blackburn said in an interview with The National Desk last week. 

“The fact that you would legalize or normalize 5,000 a day, that is 1.8 million people. This is an erosion of our existing law and it is making illegal immigration legal. We know this administration has worked hard to do that.”

Today, the White House responded to what essentially amounts to a soft, informal filibuster by calling out Republican hypocrisy in a recent memo. It says despite years of hysteria surrounding border security, the GOP is now all of a sudden disinterested in passing a new law. 

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), the top Republican involved in the border negotiations, also addressed the contradictions. 

“Republicans four months ago ... locked arms together and said, ‘We’re not going to give you money for this. We want a change in law,’” Lankford said in a recent Fox News interview. “A few months later, when we’re finally getting to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding. I actually don’t want a change in law because it’s a presidential election year.’”

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Jamie Larson