Donald Trump on Saturday said he’ll fight the Senate border deal “all the way” and praised House Speaker Mike Johnson for declaring the bill dead on arrival in the lower chamber.
Speaking at a “commit to caucus” event in Nevada, Trump railed against President Joe Biden’s handling of the southern border, a subject he has repeatedly leaned into as a base-rallying issue. He called the bipartisan, unreleased Senate agreement a “bad bill” and said there’s no chance he could support it.
“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible, open borders betrayal of America. It’s not going to happen, and I’ll fight it all the way,” Trump said.
“I notice a lot of the senators, a lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me. I said that’s OK, please blame it on me. Please, because they were getting ready to pass a very bad bill. And I’ll tell you what, a bad bill, I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill.”
While the text has yet to be released, a trickling of details this week set off a firestorm on the Hill, as bipartisan negotiators tried to rally Senate Republicans in support of the policies that would alter the nation’s immigration laws. Trump has further complicated negotiations by wading into the debate in an effort to dissolve the deal.
The border has long been a political headache for Biden, who’s seen record levels of migrant crossings since taking office. Border Patrol agents reported a record 302,034 migrant encounters last month, according to data released Friday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Of those encounters, 249,785 were recorded between ports of entry.
The White House is eager to cut a deal with the Senate, which officials believe will demonstrate the president’s ability to reach bipartisan agreement and his eagerness to address the border problem. After that, the president’s team plans to blast House Republicans, some of whom have suggested it’s better for the party to hold on to the issue until November.
Johnson on Saturday released another statement, warning that the Senate bill faces dim chances in the House, where he’s declared the deal “dead on arrival.” Trump praised Johnson’s stance during Saturday’s rally, just hours after the speaker’s latest statement.
“I think he’s going to prove to be a very good speaker. It’s tough when you have a very small majority. Very tough. Mike Johnson, speaker, he just said it’s dead on arrival in the House. Dead on arrival,” Trump said.
Biden also jumped into the fray late Friday, ramping up the White House’s rhetoric and sending a sharp message to Republicans who have threatened to tank any agreement. The president urged action and said he would shut down the border after signing the bill into law.
This shutdown authority Biden was referring to would give his administration the ability to turn away migrants in between ports of entry once the agreed upon metric is hit. This would not apply to some migrants who show they are fleeing persecution or torture, and asylum-seekers would still be allowed to present claims at authorized ports of entry. The contours of the deal are still subject to negotiation.