McConnell Says Border Security Talks Face ‘Quandary’ As The Politics ‘Have Changed’: Report
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a press conference following the Republicans weekly policy luncheon on January 23, 2024 in Washington, DC. Negotiations over border security, military aid to Ukraine and Israel, and the government budget continue this week on Capitol Hill.
(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly said on Wednesday a bipartisan effort to hash out border security reforms coupled with aid for U.S. allies, such as Ukraine, is facing a significant political hurdle.

The Kentucky Republican told GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting that time has essentially run out on negotiating a deal after former President Donald Trump, who has discouraged compromise in the talks, emerged victorious in the New Hampshire primary, according to Punchbowl News.

McConnell said, “When we started this, the border united us and Ukraine divided us,” but he conceded. “The politics on this have changed.” He referred to Trump as “the nominee” and stressed, “We don’t want to do anything to undermine him.” McConnell said, “We’re in a quandary.”

Senate GOP leadership, including McConnell, insisted to reporters on Thursday that the border talks were still alive.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who has led the discussions for Democrats, said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) “continues to work with us to try to write the last bits of text. As I’ve said, we’ve had a broad agreement for a number of days and we’re in the process of finalizing that, that text,” per Fox News. He also said “we will find out the answer to that” if there remains a path to a deal.

President Joe Biden’s request last year for roughly $106 billion in supplemental funds to spend on U.S. allies — including Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan — as well as border security and humanitarian assistance, led to bipartisan talks on attaching immigration reforms sought by Republicans. Biden has voiced support for border security tweaks and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is working with Senate negotiators even as he faces impeachment proceedings in the House for his handling of the border crisis.

McConnell has argued for months in favor of linking border security reforms to the national security supplemental. The Senate will “very soon have a chance to restore our sovereignty at the southern border, to invest in our strategic competition with China, and to rebuild our credibility in the eyes of allies and adversaries alike,” he said in floor remarks this week. McConnell also said negotiators are working to “finalize the most substantial border security policy in 30 years.”

But some Republicans in the Senate, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), have spoken out against spending more funds on foreign causes. And, in the GOP-led House, conservatives have pushed for aspects of H.R. 2, a sweeping border security bill passed last year, to get implemented while also demanding more fiscal responsibility as the national debt rises above $34 trillion. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is spearheading an effort to slow down the passage of any deal to give lawmakers time to review it and possibly offer amendments.

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has rejected “purely partisan hard-right demands, like those in H.R. 2, [that] jeopardize the entire national security supplemental package,” Senate Republicans have said they were trying to draw elements from H.R. 2 to develop a proposal that included bumping up pay for border agents, resuming construction of a border wall, asylum reform, and parole reform. Lankford recently said there was a “desperate need” for a change in how asylum is handled and insisted that “we’ve got to end” catch-and-release.

Purported details of the border agreement being negotiated in the Senate were released earlier this month by a group called the Immigration Accountability Project and displayed in an infographic shown by Fox News. The alleged deal included an increase in green cards, more work permits, tax-payer-funded lawyers for some unaccompanied minors and mentally incompetent illegal immigrants, allowing 5,000 migrants to enter the U.S. each day, and restricting parole for those who enter without authorization between ports of entry.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) was among the conservatives who rejected the deal as reported. “Absolutely not,” he said in a post to X along with the Fox News infographic. Lankford urged lawmakers not to jump to any conclusions, saying, “I encourage people to read the border security bill before they judge the border security bill. I also advise people not to believe everything you read on the internet.”

Trump has won the Iowa caucuses and, on Tuesday, the New Hampshire primary. The former president still faces a challenge from former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, but Trump has garnered endorsements from roughly 30 Republican senators and 120 House lawmakers. Johnson is one of the Republicans who have endorsed Trump. McConnell has not.


In a post to Truth Social this month, Trump said he did not think a border deal should happen “unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people, many from parts unknown, into our once great, but soon to be great again, Country!” He also said, “I have no doubt that our wonderful Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, will only make a deal that is PERFECT ON THE BORDER.”

Johnson said last week that he speaks with Trump about border security “pretty frequently” and noted that the former president “is not wrong” about the issue. “We don’t have the text of whatever the Senate has cooked up yet and so we have to reserve judgment I think to see what comes out of it — it doesn’t sound good at the outset,” Johnson told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

While he has indicated that the border is a top priority, Johnson has expressed openness to more Ukraine assistance, but demanded the Biden administration be more forthcoming about a strategy for victory against Russia. And the GOP-led House under Johnson’s leadership passed legislation last year to secure more aid for Israel — so long as it was matched with slashing funds meant for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  McConnell Says Border Security Talks Face ‘Quandary’ As The Politics ‘Have Changed’: Report