House GOP leaders: Senate border deal ‘waste of time’

The bipartisan U.S. Senate agreement on the southern border took months to reach, but it was only a matter of hours after its release that it was blasted by House GOP leadership and former President Trump.

The border deal would make some of the most significant changes to U.S. immigration policy in years.

But they don’t go far enough for House Speaker Mike Johnson and his leadership team, which released a scathing statement related to the border measure on Monday.

“House Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill because it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration,” Johnson and Republican leaders said.

The lawmakers said that taking up the Senate bill in its current form “is a waste of time” and said it is dead on arrival in the House.

But before it can reach the House, it must first pass the Senate.

Even with strong support from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, passage in the upper chamber is far from a sure thing.
McConnell has been one of the most prominent backers of more aid for Ukraine, which would be unlocked by the border agreement.

But his Republican conference has grown increasingly divided over supporting a bipartisan border agreement during this election year, with Trump stepping up his criticism.

“This bill is a great gift to the Democrats and a Death Wish for the Republican Party,” Trump said in a posting Monday on his social media site Truth Social.

Trump, who is well on his way to becoming the GOP presidential nominee, has made it clear that he believes any progress on the border would only help President Biden.

House Republican leaders back that view, though Johnson denied Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that Trump is calling the shots on the issue.

“I am calling the shots for the House, that’s our responsibility,” he said.

He also defended his new proposal for a stand-alone measure to provide $17.6 million in aid for Israel, which is expected to come up for a vote this week.

The White House has called it a ploy to try to derail the broader Senate legislation.

What happened to the GOP push for border reform?

Senate Republicans last year insisted that Biden’s foreign aid package needed to include border reform, if they were going to help to get the more than $100 billion legislation passed.

Three lawmakers then began the difficult work of trying to negotiate an agreement – U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-OK; U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT; and U.S. Krysten Sinema, I-AZ.
Many were skeptical they could reach a deal.

But now that they have, the lawmakers are frustrated that many are rejecting their efforts out of hand.

“Now we have to determine, are we just going to complain about things or are we going to actually address and change as many things as we can?” Lankford said Monday on Fox.

The reforms the lawmakers agreed to include many of the topics that the GOP has pushed for, including tighter restrictions for asylum seekers and modifications to “catch and release.”
It would also allow a president to effectively close the border if daily crossings reach 5,000 a day.

Overall, the $118 billion legislation would provide about $20 billion for border measures, as well as $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.

House conservatives for months have said they don’t want to approve additional funding for Ukraine.

They have also pointed out that last year they passed H.R. 2, which included a series of major border reforms.

But Democrats said the bill had no chance of being taken up in the Senate, where it effectively died last year.

The latest foreign aid bill will come up for a key procedural vote in the Senate on Wednesday. If it fails to get 60 votes, it can’t move forward.

Right now, the momentum is moving against the legislation, but supporters aren’t ready to give up.

“This is one of the most necessary and important pieces of legislation Congress has put forward in years to ensure America’s future prosperity and security,” Schumer said.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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