COMPASS: Border Deal Crumbles

February 6th, 2024

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

I’m happy to be back in the saddle at CPI for what – by Washington standards, anyway – has already been a blistering week.

The fate of the Senate’s “border deal” can be summed up in two quotes from Mitch McConnell, each issued yesterday. The first, from Morning Mitch McConnell

I am grateful to Senator Lankford for working tirelessly to ensure that supplemental national security legislation begins with direct and immediate solutions to the crisis at our southern border . . . The Senate must carefully consider the opportunity in front of us and prepare to act.

The second, roughly eight hours later from Evening Mitch McConnell during an all-senators briefing to discuss the deal, in which he reportedly told his colleagues he recommended they vote against Wednesday’s first procedural vote on the deal.

So what happened in the interim? It seems that establishment senators finally woke up to what everyone in the conservative movement had been screaming about for months: this wasn’t a border security deal, it was a policy and political handout to Joe Biden and his party. (More on the details of the Senate’s border deal here.)

What was true four months ago, when Senators James Lankford and Mitch McConnell started negotiating this deal, remains true today: the president does not need more authorities to secure the border; he simply has to enforce the ones he has ignored. To suggest he can’t “do more” without new laws is just plain gaslighting, pure and simple.

Yet while this deal was cut in the Senate, House Republicans are not irrelevant to this process. The House majority passed H.R. 2, The Secure the Border Act of 2023 last May. Nearly every member of the Senate Republican conference also voted for the bill when Sen. Roger Marshall offered it as an amendment the following June. It was an obvious place to begin this negotiation – a bill that closes the loopholes exploited by administrations interested in an open border, and adds more teeth to current law. Senate Republicans made the bizarre choice to negotiate to the left of their House majority, and explicitly against a policy that a majority of them had already supported.

The Senate will take its first procedural vote on the supplemental spending bill and border package on Wednesday – a day after their House colleagues vote to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for enforcing unlawful conduct at the southern border. Mayorkas, it should be pointed out, has been a key negotiating partner for Senate Republicans as they crafted this border deal.

If the House votes affirmatively to impeach Mayorkas, the articles will be transmitted to the Senate, where the Senate’s rules require them to be considered no later than 1pm on the following day.

Regardless of what happens with the border provision, the Senate’s work on the supplemental spending package is still not done. The bill contains another $60 billion in funding for the war in Ukraine, aid to Israel, more funding for DOD to combat Iran’s proxy assaults in the Red Sea, and funding for the defense of Taiwan. 

The Latest From Around The Conservative Movement

  • Sen. Mike Lee’s communications director breaks down the Senate’s border bill on Glenn Beck

One More Thing…

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Mark Green makes his case for impeaching DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.