Senate Struggles to Forge Border Security Deal as Trump’s Shadow Looms Large
Former President Donald Trump’s attempts to derail a Congress bipartisan deal over the southern border has thrown Senate Republicans into disarray and imperiling bipartisan efforts aimed at addressing critical national concerns.
Trump’s Disruption and Senate GOP’s Dilemma
Trump’s vocal opposition to the emerging bipartisan agreement, driven by his desire to leverage the border issue for electoral gain, has placed GOP senators in a precarious position. His insistence on maintaining a hardline stance threatens to derail bipartisan efforts aimed at addressing the pressing challenges at the southern border.
Late Thursday, Trump released a statement saying the nation is “better off not making a deal” unless it’s “perfect,” and he called the current Senate effort “meaningless.”
“A border deal now would be another gift to the radical left Democrats. They need it politically, but don’t care about our border,” he said.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah articulated the frustration felt by many within the GOP, condemning Trump’s tactics as “appalling” and emphasizing the urgency of resolving the border crisis for the American people, irrespective of political calculations.
“I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is … really appalling,” said Romney, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump.
Meanwhile GOP Sen. Todd Young of Indiana called any efforts to disrupt the ongoing negotiations “tragic.”
“I hope no one is trying to take this away for campaign purposes,” Young said.
White House’s Steadfast Resolve Amidst Turmoil
Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison slammed Trump and Republicans for “sabotaging efforts to address issues at the border.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee said Senate Republicans are “tanking” a border deal for political reasons.
But, the White House decided not to join Democrats in attacking Trump. Instead, sources told Politico that they remained resolute in its commitment to advancing border talks and passing the bill through the Senate.
White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton’s assertion that “politics should not get in the way” reflects the administration’s unwavering focus on achieving progress on border security.
“This is a president who knows we need action and is working in good faith to make that happen. And we see no reason for politics to get in the way here,” White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters on Air Force One.
What’s in the deal?
Crafted in collaboration with top White House officials, the deal encompasses a series of border policy reforms aimed at addressing the escalating challenges at the southern U.S. border.
At the heart of the proposal lies a concerted effort to toughen the asylum process, with the overarching objective of stemming the tide of migrants arriving at the southern border to seek asylum in the United States.
The proposed reforms seek to streamline and fortify the asylum process, with a view toward curbing the influx of migrants and alleviating the strain on border enforcement resources.
Key provisions of the deal include measures to bolster border security infrastructure and enhance surveillance capabilities along the southern border. The proposal calls for the expansion of a Biden administration program designed to track families seeking asylum through the use of electronic surveillance, including ankle bracelet monitors.
This expansion aims to facilitate the monitoring of asylum seekers until they undergo an initial interview to assess their claims of persecution in their home countries.
While the specifics of the proposed reforms have largely been agreed upon by negotiators, the question of funding remains a point of contention. Senate appropriators are currently engaged in discussions to determine the funding levels necessary to implement the proposed policy changes effectively.
President Biden had previously requested $14 billion in the national security package to bolster the immigration system, including provisions to provide financial assistance to local governments grappling with the influx of migrants.
The deal also includes funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia, as well as money for Israel and the Indo-Pacific that Republicans have tied to requirements on border security.
However, the proposed border deal faces scrutiny and skepticism from both sides of the political aisle. Republican senators are weighing the efficacy and implications of the proposed policy changes.
Democrats, meanwhile, are grappling with questions surrounding the humanitarian standards embedded within the proposed reforms, with some advocating for the conditioning of military aid for Israel on adherence to rigorous humanitarian standards.
The Path Forward: Challenges and Opportunities
As negotiations enter a critical phase, the path forward remains fraught with challenges and opportunities. While Trump’s influence casts a shadow over the proceedings, Senate Republicans and the White House alike are poised to confront the daunting task of forging consensus on one of the nation’s most pressing issues.
Even if the bill ends up passing the Senate, it will likely face tough opposition in the House of Representatives.
A senior aide to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) delivered a resounding verdict on the fate of the border security deal being crafted in the Senate.
Addressing a group of Senate Republican chiefs of staff, Brett Horton, Chief of Staff to Scalise, left no room for ambiguity, saying that the proposed Senate bill stands no chance of passage in the House.
According to The Hill, he said that if the bill included provisions for expedited work permits and enhanced expulsion authority triggered only after migrant border crossings exceed 5,000 people per day – the deal will be ‘dead on arrival’.
The warning delivered by Scalise’s chief of staff acted as a sobering wake-up call for many senators, illuminating the disconnect between the Senate negotiations and the position of House GOP leaders on the proposed legislation.
Nevertheless, Senate Republicans who support a package of Ukraine funding and border security reforms aren’t giving up hope that they can pass a deal through the Senate.
A source told Politico that the White House understands that the House will likely not pass this bill, but will take this opportunity to rail against House Republicans for dragging their feet.
“They want to get a deal out of the Senate,” the source said, “even though they know it’s dead so they can pick a fight with House Republicans.”