Posted on January 26, 2024

McConnell Casts Doubt on Border Deal, Saying Trump Opposition May Sink It

Karoun Demirjian, New York Times, January 25, 2024

The emerging bipartisan border deal is hitting fresh snags among Republicans on Capitol Hill because of the opposition of former President Donald J. Trump, who is closing in on his party’s presidential nomination at a critical time for the agreement.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, told Republicans privately on Wednesday that the politics of the issue had been complicated by Mr. Trump’s rise and his hostility to the agreement, putting the party “in a quandary,” according to lawmakers who participated in the meeting {snip}

The remarks, reported earlier by Punchbowl News, were striking coming from a Republican who has toiled to distance himself and his party from the former president. Mr. McConnell has vociferously backed the proposed border compromise and has been a chief proponent of a stalled effort to send tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, which Republicans have said must be tied to the deal.

Mr. McConnell’s abrupt change in tone reflected the increasingly difficult challenge facing Senate negotiators as they race to finalize immigration legislation that the former president is already actively campaigning against.

Mr. Trump has encouraged Republicans to reject any border deal “unless we get EVERYTHING” the party has demanded, fueling the opposition of Republican lawmakers who have argued that the bipartisan proposal, which includes measures to increase deportations and make it more difficult to claim asylum, doesn’t go far enough.

His opposition has made it more difficult to secure the support of a majority of Senate Republicans for an eventual deal, the threshold that backers say they must meet in order to persuade the House to take it up. Even if it meets that bar in the Senate, Speaker Mike Johnson has cast doubt on the prospect that he would bring it to the floor in the House {snip}


Other Republicans have said their party would be unwise to give President Biden a compromise that could help him politically without adequately addressing the issue.

“A ‘deal’ will allow Biden to pretend he’s doing something about the border but it won’t solve the problem,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote on social media on Wednesday.