Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate’s Republican Minority Leader, recommended late Monday that his colleagues vote against a tepid border bill co-signed by Democrats, throwing negotiations over domestic security and funding for Ukraine and Israel into disarray.
Veteran Capitol Hill reporter Jake Sherman reported that the Kentucky Republican encouraged his colleagues in a closed-door GOP meeting to vote against a deal that has drawn sharp criticism in conservative circles for allowing up to 5,000 illegal migrant crossings per day, approximately half the amount of crossing that currently occur along the nation’s southern border. McConnell’s reservations are all but sure to tank efforts between Democrats and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) to negotiate a crackdown on migrants in exchange for tens of billions of dollars for overseas wars sought by President Joe Biden. Conservative House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) previously indicated any such bill would be “dead on arrival” in his chamber and added late Monday that the new laws proposed for the border would “do more harm than good.”
Speaking on Fox News, Johnson defended his decision to refuse to entertain a vote, telling host Laura Ingraham that it encourages illegal immigration while further empowering Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a time when House Republicans are actively pursuing his impeachment.
“What it would do is actually further incentivize illegal immigration,” Johnson said on Fox. “It would not resolve any of the problems, not reform in any meaningful way the broken asylum system, the broken parole process and all the things that have created this catastrophe. And, by the way, meanwhile, it further empowers the very Cabinet Secretary who designed and created this mess. They don’t follow federal law. Why would we do this anyway? But the bill itself would actually do more harm than good and that’s why we have said it’s a non-starter over here in the House.”
After going out on a limb to defend the bill, Sen. Lankford is now being targeted by critics who claim he fell victim to disingenuous efforts by McConnell to shape the bill.
Sean Davis, founder of The Federalist, said the move by the majority leader was a classic bait-and-switch. He “will leave you out to dry, then cut off the limb you’re standing on to save his own behind,” Davis wrote on X.
“Make no mistake: McConnell picked Lankford for this kamikaze mission because 1) Lankford isn’t up for re-election until 2028, and 2) Lankford didn’t have the experience or wits to accomplish anything substantive against Schumer and Biden, whose goals on immigration and Ukraine perfectly align with McConnell’s.
“It was vintage Mitch McConnell: work feverishly behind the scenes on behalf of his donors and the Uniparty to fleece taxpayers, pick an unsuspecting dupe to bear the public burden of carrying McConnell’s slop bucket, then throw the poor dupe right under the bus when everything goes sideways,” he added.
Let this be a lesson to any Republican stupid enough to go out on a limb to do McConnnell’s dirty work: he will leave you out to dry, then cut off the limb you’re standing on to save his own behind.
Make no mistake: McConnell picked Lankford for this kamikaze mission because 1)… https://t.co/muW0rV2nlb
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 6, 2024
During the 90-minute GOP meeting, several Republican senators came out against the $118 billion spending package, according to POLITICO. McConnell, who previously indicated he agreed with tying enhanced border security to international funding, ultimately acquiesced, telling colleagues that if they didn’t like the direction the bill was headed they are free to vote against it. He did not forcefully defend or oppose the bill, according to two attendees.
Former President Donald Trump came out forcefully against the deal on Monday, giving further cover to conservatives who would rather see Biden continue suffering blame for historic illegal crossings than negotiate in an election year.
“The ridiculous ‘Border’ Bill is nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election. Don’t fall for it!!!” President Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“We need a separate Border and Immigration Bill. It should not be tied to foreign aid in any way, shape, or form! The Democrats broke Immigration and the Border. They should fix it.”