More and more Republicans are expressing frustration and outright anger over Donald Trump’s efforts to kill a bipartisan deal being worked out in the US Senate to address border security and the high numbers of migrants seeking asylum in the US.
On Thursday, Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw joined that list. The border-state Republican’s opinion is significant as it shows that the House GOP is far from unified around Mr Trump’s desire to see the push to address immigration fail — despite Speaker Mike Johnson seemingly being on board with the former president’s wishes.
“The height of stupidity is having a strong opinion in something you know nothing about,” said the congressman in a gaggle with reporters in front of the steps of the US Capitol.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the strange maneuvering by many on the right to torpedo a potential border reform bill.”
He added: “[I]f we have a bill, that on net significantly decreases illegal immigration, and we sabotage that? That is inconsistent with what we told our voters we would do.”
GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX) hits back at Republicans (like Ted Cruz) who are pretending to oppose the border bill because Trump wants to run on the issue.
He says it’s a “dereliction of duty” to block bill that reduces border crossings. pic.twitter.com/Rh5cFPKJLk
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) February 1, 2024
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told senators on Thursday that the text of the deal, along with supplemental assistance for Ukraine, is set to be released by Sunday.
The imminent deal could be a significant legislative victory for President Joe Biden, in what has shaped up to be an active duel with his presumed 2024 opponent Donald Trump.
However, Mr Biden is facing criticism from progressives for embracing stricter border controls and the suspension of asylum under a border “shutdown”.
The bill will face a mountain of resistance in the House should it get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. Mr Johnson has signalled intense skepticism around the specifics, sparking furious arguments between the House and Senate GOP over whether House Republicans were honestly engaging with their colleagues. A number of swing-district Republicans are already opposed to the legislation.
“For any of my colleagues that want to do this, go do the work on it. But don't just do a press conference...actually sit down with the other side and figure out what we can actually resolve,” Senator James Lankford, the lead Republican negotiator, said on Thursday.
Mr Johnson had warned earlier in the week that any immigration legislation to pass the House must zero out illegal crossings.
Any border "shutdown" authority that ALLOWS even one illegal crossing is a non-starter. Thousands each day is outrageous. The number must be ZERO.
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) January 29, 2024
Mr Schumer added on Thurdsay that a vote on the legislation could come up as soon as the middle of next week.
Conservatives aligned with Mr Trump are vowing to oppose it, and argue that Mr Biden already has the necessary authority to “shut down” the border and stop the hundreds of illegal crossings occuring every day.
While Mr Biden does have the authority to implement some changes to border security efforts and asylum procedures unilaterally, he cannot halt asylum applications without Congress making changes to asylum law.
Allies of the former president and Mr Trump himself are going on the offensive against Mr Lankford and any Republican supporting the deal.
It’s an uncomfortable but familiar dynamic for Senate Republicans after four years of the former president in the White House.
Mr Trump may be under four separate criminal investigations, but he is the far-and-away frontrunner for the Republican nomination and continues to command a massive support base within the party’s activist base.