Republicans at war over $118 BILLION border bill: Mitch McConnell faces fury over new law that would shut down border if crossings reach 5,000 a day and ends ‘catch and release’ as GOP colleagues say it’s even WORSE than expected

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Republicans in the House say they will not vote for the Senate border package
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson said the $118B deal is ‘dead on arrival’
  • President Joe Biden says he supports the deal, which also includes aid to Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine

House Speaker Mike Johnson has joined other Republicans who have already deemed the bipartisan Senate border deal ‘dead on arrival’ and dubbed the proposal ‘worse than expected.’

Three chief negotiators for the border security package, Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), unveiled the text of the sprawling deal on Sunday.

But Republican infighting is likely to tank the compromise as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to bring the first procedural vote to the floor on Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing much of the fury from those opposing the bill after he insisted last year that border policy changes be included in the funding package for embattled countries. 

The $118 billion deal, backed by the White House, includes $14 billion in aid to Israel, $60 billion to Ukraine and also $20 billion for securing the southern border amid a massive increase in illegal migration. It also includes billions for critical partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing much of the fury from those opposing the bill

House Speaker Mike Johnson said the $118 billion Senate border package is 'dead on arrival' as he  announced over the weekend that the lower chamber will bring a 'clean, standalone' $17 billion Israel aid bill to the floor next week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said the $118 billion Senate border package is ‘dead on arrival’ as he  announced over the weekend that the lower chamber will bring a ‘clean, standalone’ $17 billion Israel aid bill to the floor next week

Speaker Johnson said the 370-page bill unveiled on Sunday is 'even worse than we expected'

Speaker Johnson said the 370-page bill unveiled on Sunday is ‘even worse than we expected’

Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Steve Daines was the first among the upper chamber’s leadership to oppose the bill on Monday, writing: ‘I can’t support a bill that doesn’t secure the border, provides taxpayer funded lawyers to illegal immigrants and gives billions to radical open borders groups. I’m a no.’

Instead, Daines said the bill should reinstate pandemic-era Title 42, Remain in Mexico policies and border wall construction.

When the bill’s text was released on Sunday, President Joe Biden said in a statement: ‘I strongly support it.’

But Republicans, especially those in the House of Representatives, are not on board with the deal and could sink it when it goes to the lower chamber for reconciliation.

‘Any Republican voting for this Senate America last open border amnesty bill must be paid off by foreign interests and is acting as a foreign agent,’ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted to X, formerly Twitter. ‘What an embarrassment! Shame on them!!’

Sen. J.D. Vance posted: ‘The House is impeaching Mayorkas next week while the Senate will be voting to give him massive discretion to …not enforce the border. Why would any Republican vote for this?’

The bill would mandate the border be shut if there are 5,000 encounters over the course of a week or 8,500 migrants encountered in a single day. But many Republicans don’t think this goes far enough.

And House Republican leadership made it clear over the weekend that the package doesn’t have backing in the lower chamber.

‘I’ve seen enough,’ Speaker Johnson (R-La.) wrote on X. ‘This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created.’

‘As the lead Democrat negotiator proclaimed: Under this legislation, ‘the border never closes,’ Johnson added. ‘If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival.’

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) wrote, ‘Let me be clear: The Senate Border Bill will NOT receive a vote in the House.’

‘Here’s what the people pushing this ‘deal’ aren’t telling you: It accepts 5,000 illegal immigrants a day and gives automatic work permits to asylum recipients—a magnet for more illegal immigration,’ he added.

Donald Trump’s eldest son ranted on X against the ‘insanity’ of the deal in a couple of posts.

‘Mitch McConnell and James Lankford are selling out America with their Mass Amnesty/Ukraine Bailout deal,’ he wrote on Sunday, adding: ‘Pass it on.’

‘We know that Mitch McConnell is clearly not mentally there after his numerous glitches this fall, but to watch him get rolled this way and still be in ‘Republican leadership’ is truly embarrassing for our party,’ he said in a Monday post.

‘Was there any GOP opposition to a Dem dream bill?’ Donald Trump Jr. questioned.

Additionally, several progressives are also expected to oppose the plan – like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who said Sunday that he is against the package due to the funding for Israel.

And pro-immigration and Hispanic lawmakers are taking aim at overhauls made to the immigration policy.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) called the bill a ‘new version of Trump-era policies that will cause more chaos at the border.’

The White House intervened with border negotiations in the Senate, with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas going to Capitol Hill for discussions despite the House launching an impeachment inquiry against him at the same time.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the Senate border bill won't be voted on in the lower chamber – as the Senate chugs ahead with a vote on Wednesday

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the Senate border bill won’t be voted on in the lower chamber – as the Senate chugs ahead with a vote on Wednesday

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene said the bill is an 'embarrassment' and slammed any Republican colleagues who will vote for its passage as 'foreign agents'

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene said the bill is an ’embarrassment’ and slammed any Republican colleagues who will vote for its passage as ‘foreign agents’

In December, the U.S. saw the highest number of migrants arrested at the U.S. border with Mexico as more than 302,000 were apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Former President Donald Trump urged Congress to abandon the deal even before the text was released over the weekend.

He lambasted the deal in posts on Truth Social over recent weeks, saying the ‘horrific’ bill is being used by Democrats to put the ‘border disaster’ onto the ‘shoulders of Republicans.’

‘There is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,’ Trump said at a rally last weekend. ‘A lot of the senators, they’re trying to blame it on me. I say, ‘that’s okay, please blame it on me.’ I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill.’

Republican colleagues argue that Democrats are pushing to move too quickly to get something passed during an election year when one of Biden’s biggest pitfalls has been dealing with the ongoing southern border crisis.

Republican Sen. James Lankford, independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy led negotiations on the package – and they kept the text close to chest until unveiling it on Sunday. Lankford (pictured) was censured by his home state's Republican Party last month

Republican Sen. James Lankford, independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy led negotiations on the package – and they kept the text close to chest until unveiling it on Sunday. Lankford (pictured) was censured by his home state’s Republican Party last month

President Joe Biden said in a Sunday statement that he 'strongly supports' the sweeping bill

President Joe Biden said in a Sunday statement that he ‘strongly supports’ the sweeping bill

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and several other GOP hardliners in the Senate have said a ‘single weekend’ to review the massive bill ‘doesn’t count’ and is demanding more time to interview witnesses and examine the text before a vote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called it the ‘oldest game in town’ bringing the major piece of legislation before a recess or holiday but ‘hopes’ Speaker Johnson will give the bill a ‘fair shake’ if it passes the Senate.

But Johnson announced Saturday the House separately will bring a ‘clean, standalone’ $17 billion Israel aid bill to the floor next week as the Senate prepares to move forward its supplemental package.

The Senate’s massive package includes $6 billion to CBP for security enforcement and investigations relating to ‘migration surges along the southwest border’ and ‘counter-fentanyl activities.’

But over $40 billion will be allotted to ‘respond to the situations’ in Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

It also contains a provision that would deny funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) after controversy over many employees’ involvement in Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel.

Biden supports the legislation.

‘Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it,’ he wrote in a Sunday statement.

The president added: ‘It will make our country safer, make our border more secure, treat people fairly and humanely while preserving legal immigration, consistent with our values as a nation.’

He went on to say that he hopes Republicans stop ‘playing politics’ with the border.

‘I’ve made my decision. I’m ready to solve the problem. I’m ready to secure the border. And so are the American people. I know we have our divisions at home but we cannot let partisan politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation,’ he added. 

The White House insists the deal will institute ‘the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country’ and give Biden new executive authority to ‘shut down the border.’ 

Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the daily briefing Monday that Speaker Mike Johnson must ‘step up’ and provide the ‘authorities’ needed to secure the border. 

But Johnson has said Biden could take executive action to ‘immediately’ reverse the ‘catastrophe’ at the border – and doesn’t need Congress’ help.

He has said Biden ‘falsely claimed’ he needs Congress to pass a new law to allow him to close the southern border. ‘He knows that is untrue,’ Johnson said in a statement. 

Biden said in a written statement that the deal would allow him ‘a new emergency authority’ to close the border. He added: ‘And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.’ 

Trump also insisted Congress did not need to pass legislation and that the executive branch already has the authority it needs to secure the border. 

‘I had the safest and most secure Border in U.S. History. I didn’t need a ‘Bill!’ They are using this horrific Senate Bill as a way of being able to put the BORDER DISASTER onto the shoulders of the Republicans. The Democrats BROKE THE BORDER, they should fix it. NO LEGISLATION IS NEEDED, IT’S ALREADY THERE!!!’ he wrote on Truth Social. 

Johnson said the House won’t take up the legislation unless it ends catch-and-release and reinstates the Remain in Mexico program. 

Former President Donald Trump is urging Congress to abandon the deal before the text of the deal has even been released

Former President Donald Trump is urging Congress to abandon the deal before the text of the deal has even been released

An aerial view of the area as migrants walking along razor wire after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States on January 28, 2024

An aerial view of the area as migrants walking along razor wire after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States on January 28, 2024

‘It is interesting, Republicans four months ago, would not give funding for Ukraine for Israel and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy. So we actually locked arms together and said, We’re not going to give you money for this. We want to change the law,’ Sen. James Lankford, Okla., said on Fox News over the weekend. 

‘A few months later, when we’re finally going to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding. I actually don’t want to change in law because the presidential election year,” he went on. 

Back home Lankford was censured over the weekend by the Oklahoma GOP, which threatened to withdraw support for him if he did not ‘cease and desist jeopardizing the security and liberty of the people of Oklahoma.’ 

‘The fact that [Trump] would communicate to Republican senators…that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling,’ Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters last week. 

‘If we fail to get this passed, I’m going to file exactly the same bill if Trump wins and we have a majority of the Senate. I’ll guarantee you that everybody who’s against it. It’s all about politics and not having the courage to respectfully disagree with President Trump and tell him: ‘This will help him.’ He has requested it before,’ Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said. 

‘I didn’t come here to have a president as a boss or a candidate as a boss. I came here to pass good, solid policy that will help a president who is serious [about] securing the border.’

Lankford avidly disputed Trump’s assertion that the deal would lead to ‘open borders’ – and reports that it would allow up to 5,000 crossers per day before allowing immediate expulsion.  

‘It would be absolutely absurd for me to agree to 5,000 people a day. This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day,’ he said. 

The Oklahoma Republican insisted the deal would increase the number of border agents and asylum officers, increase detention beds, end catch and release, up the number of deportation flights and speed up asylum screening. 

‘It is a shutdown of the border and everyone actually gets turned around. Okay, that’s the focus that we have right now. Is how do we actually intervene in this administration, in turn people around not let people in,’ he said. 

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