Senior Senate Republicans are furious that Donald Trump killed a budding bipartisan deal on the southern border, robbing them of a key legislative achievement over a national priority and offering a preview of what's to come as Trump becomes their potential presidential nominee.
In recent weeks, Trump has been urging Republicans, in private conversations and in public statements on social media, to oppose the delicate elimination of the border compromise in the Senate, according to GOP sources familiar with the conversations — in part because he wants to campaign. It's a November issue and President Joe Biden doesn't want to win in a politically vulnerable area.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged in a private meeting Wednesday that Trump's hostility to the still-unreleased border deal is putting Republicans in a tight bind as they try to move forward on an already complicated issue. For weeks, Republicans have been warning that Trump's opposition could blow up the bipartisan proposal, but McConnell's admission was particularly notable, given that he was the lead advocate for a border-Ukraine package.
Now, Republicans on Capitol Hill and most in the GOP are genuinely struggling Hate to do anything that could be seen as undermining the former president. As McConnell made clear during Thursday's dinner, the prospect of a deal being scuttled before it's done has caused tensions and confusion in the Senate GOP. According to the participants, behind the effort to make a deal.
“I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. He's going to communicate with Republican senators and people in Congress because he doesn't want to address the border issue because he wants to blame Biden … that's really terrifying,” Utah's GOP Sen. Mitt Romney said. An outspoken critic of Trump.
He added, “But the fact is, we have a crisis at the border, and the American people are suffering as a result of what's happening at the border. And a presidential candidate is not trying to solve the problem. Instead, say, 'Hey, save that trouble. Don't solve it. I will feel proud after solving it.
Indiana's GOP Sen. Todd Young said any attempt to derail the ongoing negotiations would be “disgusting”, adding: “I hope no one tries to use this for propaganda purposes.”
“I would encourage (Chief Senate GOP negotiator) James Lankford and other conservatives to prepare a working product that they would soon allow conservatives like me to reconsider and assure that many of us would not see a third party and evaluate the merits of passing this bipartisan proposal,” Young said. .
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Sen. Todd Young speaks.
It's a move all too familiar to Republicans who have worked with Trump in office, where he can easily derail legislative action on Capitol Hill with a single tweet or spark a new controversy that forces Republicans to respond. With Trump now marching toward the presidential nomination, Republicans are once again hailing him as the nominee.
A GOP senator told CNN that Trump's comments and campaign to kill the border deal are underscoring how much damage the Senate is doing.
“If it weren't for Donald Trump, this plan would have almost unanimous Republican support,” the Republican senator said.
GOP Sen. from North Carolina involved in the negotiations. Thom Tillis – Said he doesn't know if anyone can convince Trump not to kill the deal. But he acknowledged that it would take some “courage” for members to move forward at this point in defiance of Trump — though Tillis argued it would be useful for Trump to address the flow and passage of a border security deal. Immigrants trying to enter the country.
“I think members of the Senate need to show some courage and at the end of the day be very helpful to President Trump,” Tillis said.
Asked if Trump was wrong to attack the deal, Tillis said: “I'll leave it up to him to figure out how to get into office. I hope you leave it to some of us who support that effort to border and abuse and give him the tools he needs to manage today's dangerous situation.
For his part, McConnell — who has had zero rapport with Trump since the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack — downplayed Trump's opposition, saying “this is nothing new,” and insisted they had not given up on talks.
“We're still working,” McConnell said. “Trying to come to a conclusion.”
Sen. John Thune, no. 2 Senate Republicans acknowledged that the debates have reached a critical juncture, but they may need to return to “Plan B.”
“If we can't get there, we'll go to B,” Thune said. “But at least for now, I think efforts are still being made to try and come up with a solution that will satisfy a lot of Republicans.”
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On his way to the Senate floor for a vote on January 23 in Washington, DC, Sen. Thom Tillis speaks to reporters.
The status of border negotiations is still unclear
In the latest sign that the emerging border deal faces an uphill battle, House GOP senior aide Steve Scalise told a group of Senate Republican leaders Thursday that it appeared dead on arrival in the chamber. .
Senate Republicans on the fence about the plan may be less likely to support it, knowing it will go nowhere in the House and knowing Trump wants to kill a border deal.
Frustration prevailed within the Senate GOP on Thursday amid lingering confusion over the status of a deal.
Although McConnell said negotiations are still ongoing, he cautioned Republican leadership against pulling the plug before they take a thorough temperature check inside the convention, where a group of Republicans are still fighting for a deal.
“I think the leadership should count their noses before taking any impulsive decisions,” he said.
Pressed on whether it was realistic for Trump to pass a border deal over it, Young said: “It could be possible. Listen, I am very much attuned to political realities, but I think you should consult the conference before you take these decisions on behalf of the conference.
Sen. of Wisconsin. Ron Johnson, an outspoken critic of McConnell, said during a closed-door meeting Wednesday that he was “shocked” by the president's comments, which were perceived to be focused on Ukraine.
“I mean, we were talking about funding for Ukraine, and all of a sudden he brought up the border, and then, again, trying to shift the blame to President Trump on what I think is a pretty lame excuse, I would say. The negotiations failed, not James Lankford,” Johnson said. “James Lankford cut off his tail. Actually it was McConnell who stole foreign exchange by not tying Ukraine funding to securing the border.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has made no secret of her frustration with Trump over the years, said members should remember how big this moment is for the border and Ukraine and put their own politics aside.
“I'm not giving up. It's not about Trump, it's not about me. It's about our country. It's about democracy around the world. It's about security for our own country, so we're going to keep trying to get this border deal,” he said. “Our friends and We'll stand by the commitments we've made to our partners so that our word really means something.”
It's the second time in six years that Trump has been killed or actively attempted to be killed as a bipartisan immigration deal unfolds. In 2018, Murkowski was part of bipartisan negotiations on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The bill received 54 votes in the Senate, but not enough to cross the finish line.
Sen. from Connecticut, one of the Democrats involved in the border negotiations. Chris Murphy expressed frustration at Trump's attempts to inject confusion into the situation.
“I think in the next 24 to 48 hours, they're going to decide whether they want to do this or whether the forces around Donald Trump — who want to create chaos at the border — are going to win,” Murphy said. “So they have to make a decision. I hope they make that decision very quickly. We have a 95% written agreement and are ready to come to the stage if the Republicans decide they really want to solve the problem.
This story has been updated with additional updates.