WASHINGTON — As Republicans squared off among themselves, tempers flared Thursday accept or reject a deal for stricter immigration lawssome by pushing back on colleagues who wanted to bow to former President Donald Trump’s wishes and kill him.
“The border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. And for him to tell Republican senators and people in Congress that he doesn’t want us to fix the border because he wants to blame Biden — it’s really terrible,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. reporters.
“The American people are suffering as a result of what is happening at the border,” he said. “And someone running for president said, ‘Hey, save this problem!’ Don’t solve it! Let me take credit for solving this later.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, RN.C., urged his colleagues not to engage in all politics at the behest of another candidate.
“I did not come here for the president to be the boss or the candidate to be the leader. I’m here to implement good, solid policy,” Tillis said. “It’s immoral of me to think that you’re looking the other way because you think that’s the basis for President Trump to win.”
Their comments came a day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told a private GOP meeting the political challenges facing the deal on immigration and foreign aid, including Trump’s opposition to the Republican presidential nomination. The belief among some conservatives is that blocking the deal would blame President Joe Biden for the chaotic situation at the border, despite voters’ support for negotiations.
Trump’s campaign declined to comment for this article. He criticized the deal on a social media platform. writing Republicans “shouldn’t do a Border Deal at all unless they get EVERYTHING.”
While senators said McConnell made it clear on Thursday that he was not withdrawing his support for the pact, some are calling for the party to reject it because it does not go far enough in closing the border. It has not been finalized as a contract congressional owners work through fsuspends provisions.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said, “I want a negotiation that really secures the border so that they can’t get out, they can’t drive a semi truck through the loopholes.” told reporters. “What the Senate leadership has failed to describe is how the current negotiations, the elements that are meant for us, will actually work.”
Johnson and a group of GOP senators held a news conference Wednesday blasted the deal with Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is up for re-election this fall, called it “completely ineffective in addressing the problem” because it would only partially reduce the number of asylum seekers. He called the deal “a fig leaf that provides border security but doesn’t actually provide border security.”
“Resign from the damn Senate”
Cruz’s likely Democratic opponent this fall, Rep. Colin Allred praised the “developing bipartisan agreement,” saying “Texans desperately need us to act on the border crisis.” “But again, Ted Cruz is not interested in finding solutions, only partisan politics. Our border communities are fed up and can’t stand six more years of Ted Cruz and his spiteful, partisan games.
Sen. Chris Murphy, the chief Democratic negotiator of Connecticut, said that “Donald Trump’s unwillingness to fix the border shouldn’t shock anyone,” because he and “a lot of Republicans” are used to seeing it. as “a political issue, not an actual policy issue”.
“They make a decision in the next 24 to 48 hours whether they want to resolve the border issue or just keep it alive as a political issue,” he said.
D-Mont., who faces re-election in 2024 in a quintessentially red state. Sen. Jon Tester, when asked to respond to the GOP’s push to derail the deal, responded with one word: “Bull—lonely.”
“I think it’s stupid,” Tester told NBC News. “We need to reach this agreement to ensure the security of the border. “If they want to keep this as a campaign issue, I think they should resign from the damn Senate.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, another Democrat up for re-election, said: “They should put politics aside and do this. People want it. They say what they want. We want it.”
The deal’s fate rests on independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat. He is one of the key negotiators and has not decided whether he will run again this fall.
Polls show him trailing against the likely Democratic and Republican nominees in a hypothetical three-way race. Securing the deal could send a campaign message to voters in the border state as he seeks to develop his image as a bridge-builder between the parties.
Asked about Trump’s attempts to kill the deal, Sinema answered: “I have no comment on that. Look, we’re at a point where this package is almost ready. When the text comes out, the senators will be able to review it and make their own decisions. Do they want to protect the border? This is a choice.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer adjourned the chamber Thursday afternoon, vowing that Democrats would stick to the deal and that “negotiators will work all weekend to get it done.”
With Democrats controlling the Senate 51-49, 60 votes are needed to override a guaranteed vote. And even if it does, there’s no guarantee it will pass in the Republican-controlled House.
“There are too many people who believe that border security is too good an issue to pass up,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, RN.D. “And I reject it. I have always rejected the idea that perfect is the standard.”
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has opposed the immigration talks, saying many Republicans are “totally in the dark” about the details. He added that he spoke with Trump recently, but they did not discuss border policy or Ukraine.
“He’s talking about his election,” Scott said.