Speaker Johnson declares Biden's border bill 'dead on arrival' as Trump urges GOP to avoid 'sophisticated trap'

 February 5, 2024

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has vowed to kill off the so-called "border security" compromise between Joe Biden and Senate Republicans after the details of the legislation left critics aghast. 

Within hours of the bill being released, Johnson declared it "dead on arrival."

"This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created,” Johnson posted on X.

Border "never closes"

It isn't just Trump-aligned House Republicans who are objecting. Republican senators like John Cornyn (Tx.) - hardly a pro-Trump firebrand - have voiced concerns with the bill.

The bill's critics say it falls far short of securing the southern border, despite the claims of Biden and lead Republican sponsor James Lankford (Ok.) Republicans also balk at the fact that the bill gives $60 billion to Ukraine, three times as much as the $20 billion going to "border security."

Johnson cited Democratic Senator Chris Murphy (Ct..), who conceded that the border "never closes" despite a "shutdown" authority that has been pushed as one of the bill's primary selling points.

Read the fine print...

While the bill raises the bar slightly for asylum claims, the fine print makes clear that the "shutdown" is left to the president's discretion.

Moreover, the shutdown cannot be activated, even on a discretionary basis, until a threshold of 4,000 crossings a day has been met.

Republicans say this establishes the historically high rate of immigration under Biden as a baseline going forward.

The border would still be open at ports of entry during a "shutdown" and at least 1,400 asylum claims a day must still be processed - and there are time constraints on how long the "shutdown" can remain in effect. The bill also allows the president to suspend the "shutdown" at his discretion - which has raised alarms for Republicans, given Biden's track record on immigration.

Trump's warning

While the bill comes with few guarantees of border security, it includes immediate work permits for asylum seekers, 50,000 more green cards each year and a pathway to citizenship for Afghan refugees.

President Trump has warned Republicans to reject the border bill - warning it lets Democrats wash their hands of the historic border surge that has taken place on Biden's watch.

"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!!!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

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