Senate Border Deal Is ‘Dead on Arrival,’ Johnson Warns

Senate Border Deal Is ‘Dead on Arrival,’ Johnson Warns


Speaker Mike Johnson on Friday appeared to snuff out any hope that a bipartisan Senate deal combining border changes and foreign aid could also pass the House.

In a letter to House colleagues — who are away from the Capitol this week for a “district work period” — Johnson noted that the Senate “appears unable to reach any agreement,” but added that if rumors about the content of the emerging deal are true, “it would have been dead on arrival in the House anyway.”

President Joe Biden defended the emerging Senate deal. “What’s been negotiated would – if passed into law – be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” he said in a statement. “It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

He said Congress should provide the billions of dollars in border funding he requested to pay for another 1,300 border patrol agents, 375 immigration judges, 1,600 asylum officers and technology to stop fentanyl from entering the country.

“For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it,” Biden said. “If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it.”

Senate negotiators still hope to unveil the text of a bipartisan deal next week, after months of talks to craft legislation that would tighten border security and unlock support for billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine.

The fate of any such deal has long been in question given the likelihood of opposition from Johnson and his conference, who have insisted that their own stricter border package should be adopted and that any agreement that falls short of that would fail to resolve the crisis and would go nowhere in the House.

Democrats have called the House plan a non-starter and Sen. James Lankford, the lead Senate GOP negotiator, has urged Republicans not to dismiss a potential deal, but Johnson made clear in his letter that he remains deeply skeptical of a compromise with the administration. “I am emphasizing again today that House Republicans will vigorously oppose any new policy proposal from the White House or Senate that would further incentivize illegal aliens to break our laws,” Johnson wrote.

He again called on President Joe Biden to take executive action to stem the flow of migrants into the country and said House Republicans will move ahead next week with impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The outlook for any deal also got cloudier in the Senate this week, as conservatives railed against both the rumored contents of the agreement and the negotiation process. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also acknowledged to his members that presidential politics are undercutting Republican incentive to back a deal, as former president Donald Trump seeks to score campaign points on the border issue. “The politics on this have changed,” the senator reportedly told his conference.

The bottom line: It was always clear that passing a border deal through the House would be difficult at best, given Republican border politics and opposition to more funding for Ukraine. Trump’s dominance in the Republican presidential race only heightens that challenge. If or when Senate negotiators issue text of their compromise, the path to passage for any kind of border package and aid to Ukraine remains wholly unclear.