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Republicans Flipped On Supporting The Bipartisan Border Act – Craven Political Move To Help Former President And Sabotage Democrats’ Efforts To Secure Our Border

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “One of the things that I keep reminding my members is if we had a 100% Republican government — president, House, Senate — we probably would not be able to get a single Democratic vote to pass what Sen. [James] Lankford and the administration are trying to get together,” he told reporters. “So this is a unique opportunity to accomplish something in divided government.” [Press Conference, 1:14 - 1:47, 1/17/24]

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “We are working hard continuously to try to get a solution on the border part of it. I think this is the ideal time to do it. I think all of you know the politics around here. If this were not divided government, we wouldn't have an opportunity to do anything about the border. In fact, I don't think we'd get 60 votes for any border plan if we had a fully Republican government. So this is a unique opportunity where divided government has given us an opportunity to get an outcome. Virtually all of my members have said to their constituents for a long time, we need to fix the border. This administration is not going to do it unless we force them to and we're going to continue to press to try to get an outcome that we can put on the floor.” [Stakeout, 14:21 - 15:21, 1/23/24]

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “In a moment as critical as this, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We are currently in a historically narrowly divided Congress, making bipartisanship an essential component in getting legislation across the finish line. That is what our Senate negotiators are engaged in.  We all talk about how bad the situation is at the southern border, but it is irresponsible to talk about the problem while refusing to solve it unless you get 100 percent of what you want. I have been here several years. I can honestly say there are very few times I get 100 percent of everything I want in a bill.  If we do not take this opportunity to make serious reforms, then the current crisis will continue with no end in sight. We cannot do that. As negotiations continue, we await the text of a final agreement.  The question that will soon be before us will not be whether this is a bill that each of us would have personally written--because it won't be--but, rather, if we will take this opportunity and make serious reforms--the most serious reforms in decades--to help stop the overwhelming number of encounters that our Border Patrol agents see every day and take back control of our southern border. We must bring order and process back to our immigration policies.  I admire the steadfast and particular dedication of my colleague from Oklahoma, Senator Lankford, who has personally called many of us. He called me three times over Christmas. I know he didn't get much of a break with his family. He has displayed incredible strength throughout this process.  I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to recognize the importance of this moment and the urgent need to respond to the challenges that we have in front of us.  As always, I maintain my optimism--I am hoping next week we will get the text, and we can work that bill through this body--and remain confident in this Chamber's ability to deliver. We must take advantage of this opportunity.  I have never been at the cusp of an opportunity like this in the last 20 years on immigration that we have right now--something that will make a difference. So we have to take advantage of this, and we have to make sure that we are making meaningful changes as we are moving through this process.” [Congressional Record, 1/10/24]

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “We’ve got a giant problem with tens of thousands of people coming every day.” … “We’ve got to work to find solutions. I wouldn’t shut the door on anything.” [Punchbowl, 1/17/24]

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA): “Yeah, so let's just look at it this way: if we don't pass this bill there may be as many as one to two million more illegals that come across the border this next year between now and the next election. Think about that if we don't pass this bill, there may be one to two million more people who come illegally.” [Fox News Interview, 1:42 – 1:59, 2/3/24; VIDEO]

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND): “I just think it's irresponsible to start and end a negotiation with the same position – all or nothing. That's not what you can do in a divided government. If we don't try to do something when we have the moment to do something, all of those swing voter in swing states for whom the border is the number one priority have every right to look at us and go, you blew your opportunity. If we can’t get there, fine. But if we don't try, shame us.” [CNN Newsroom, 7:05:34 – 7:06:03, 1/31/24]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “We have a historic inflection point here in negotiations, for the last -- well, the years I've been in the Senate. For quite a while now, all we've done is talk about it. But now, we intend to use this leverage to do something about it.” …  “So this is a very delicate and difficult negotiation but we're not going to let this opportunity pass without doing everything we can to secure the border.” [Fox News, 12/17/23; VIDEO]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “I understand the Speaker has got a very tough job and he’s got an unruly constituency of Republicans over there, but it makes no sense to me for us to do nothing when we might be able to make things better and stem the flow of humanity across the border for the next year,” … “If we don’t do anything over the next year … it seems to me that would be a mistake.” [The Hill, 1/17/24]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “[We have] unique leverage because of the Ukraine funding,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told us. “Even when we had the majority in the House, the Senate and the White House, we still couldn’t get 60 votes for some of the things that Sen. Lankford is negotiating on now.” [Punchbowl, 1/17/24]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “It makes no sense to me for us to do nothing when we might be able to make things better.” [Punchbowl, 1/17/24]

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT): “It is time to make these policy changes. It’s urgent. The time is now.” [C-SPAN, 13:24 – 13:29, 1/9/24; VIDEO]

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA): “I would remind folks that during the Trump administration when we had the presidency, the House, and the Senate, we did absolutely nothing on the border. President trump is the one that had to really come up with the executive orders on the border. I think this is an exceptional opportunity to leverage what we have against the Democrats, to actually get some substantial changes on the border. So I think, again, we need to take a look at this very carefully. We stand the chance of or we stand the risk of losing the chance to actually get something done on the border now, because I don't see this opportunity coming up again, anytime soon.” [Fox Business, 8:18:36 - 8:19:22, 1/15/24; VIDEO]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “To those who think that if President Trump wins, which I hope he does, that we can get a better deal, you won’t. You’ve got to get sixty votes in the United States Senate. What Senator Lankford’s been able to achieve in asylum, in expedited removal, and other areas along the border, I think are meaningful reforms – but none of those reforms will work until you deal with parole. So to my Republican friends, to get this kind of border security without granting a pathway to citizenship is really unheard of. So if you think you’re going to get a better deal next time in ’25 if President Trump’s president, Democrats will be expecting a pathway to citizenship for that, in my view. So to my Republican colleagues, this is a historic moment to reform the border in a way that would give tools to the next president they don’t have today and lessen the flow to take pressure off people in Texas and Arizona and all throughout the border.” [Press Conference, 12:29 - 13:37, 1/17/24; VIDEO]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

GRAHAM: OK. Let me explain. You're dead right, Shannon. That's why you're doing this show. You're so smart. In the House, it involves two Republican votes, did not gain one Democratic vote. We hook H.R. 2 up on the floor of the Senate. We lost Rand Paul. We didn't pick up one vote. So bringing a bill that fails doesn't solve a problem. 9:20:23AM

You know how you solve a problem? You do what Lankford is doing. You sit down with the other side and you negotiate. I appreciate what Senator Lankford's done. To those who push H.R. 2, it's not going to happen. So if it doesn't happen, you've got to do something else.

BREAM: Well, you know what they're going to say in contrast to that. If you put up a Senate bill that won't pass in the House, it's also dead on arrival. So we'll see, but hopefully, we get the tax very soon.

GRAHAM: I hope that Speaker Johnson will look at the substance of it, and we'll see if it's worthy of being voted on in the House. But I want to just tell you that Senator Lankford is doing the best he can to fix a problem that's been around for a long time. [Fox News Interview Transcript via CQ, 2/4/24]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “Here’s what I would say: if you’re a really conservative person, you’d want to fix things the best you could. So H.R. 2 was unable to get any Democratic support in the House; we lost one Republican in the Senate. So to the conservative world: you have a unique opportunity, as Senator Thune described, to get border security reform without giving amnesty or a pathway to citizenship to one person. This moment will pass. Do not let it pass.” [Press Conference, 23:39 - 24:12, 1/17/24]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

GRAHAM: We had to keep the government open. We got 45 days to fix both problems. I listened to Kevin closely. There will come out of the Senate soon a bill that will have three legs to it, disaster funding -- we need more, not less -- robust funding for Ukraine to get them through the next fighting season, not $24 billion, and a major effort to secure our border.

I believe there's bipartisan support in the Senate to do both. And it will go to the House hopefully in the next 30 days.

BRENNAN: What the speaker was talking about, though, was a bill, H.R.2, regarding the border that Senate Democrats will never get on board with.

So, what are you talking about?

GRAHAM: There will be a com -- right.

So, we got to fix asylum. We need border security agent increases. We need more detention beds. I think there's Democratic support for major border security reform. But we have to attach it to Ukraine. To those who say we need to fix our border, you're right. To those who say we need to help Ukraine, you're right. To those who say we need to do the border, not Ukraine, you're wrong. The vast majority of Senate Republicans would support a combination of border security, Ukraine funding and disaster aid. [Face the Nation Interview Transcript via CQ, 10/1/23]

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

BASH: The Senate, will it ultimately pass a bill that includes funding for both?

GRAHAM: Yes, I think so.

I think you will have a bill that will have border security. We will be insane as a country not to fix our broken border. It's just a -- we're living on borrowed time in terms of the border being broken and an attack on our own nation.

I am for Ukraine support. We can't pull the plug on Ukraine, let Putin get away with this. There goes Taiwan if you do that. I'm definitely for Israel. So I think you will see a package of border security, funding for Ukraine, funding for Israel coming out of the Senate probably as one package. I would support that. [CNN State of the Union Transcript, 11/5/23]


Sen. James Lankford (R-OK):

CAVUTO: You're a real gentleman about this, and I know you're not trying to zing your colleagues, but it's your colleagues in your party, sir, who torpedoed this, who didn't get the facts right on what you just outlined was in that measure. They killed it, ironically, not Democrats.

LANKFORD: Right. It was. And it was painful to be able to watch it. And it got stirred up in all the presidential politics and several of my colleagues started looking for ways after President Trump said don't fix anything during the presidential election.

CAVUTO: Right.

LANKFORD: It's the single biggest issue during the election. Don't resolve this. We will resolve it next year. Quite a few of my colleagues backed up, looked for a reason to be able to shoot against it and then walked away. I get that. That's a decision everybody makes. And my issue is, we can -- if we're pursuing everything, we very often end up with nothing. If we're pursuing someone coming later to fix it, later seems to never come.

When we have a moment to fix things, we should fix as many things as we can then, then come back later and fix the rest.

CAVUTO: That's on Donald Trump, Senator.

LANKFORD: Again, he's got an office that he's running for. He's got a campaign that he's running.

I'm already in office. I have got a responsibility to be able to carry on this. I think everybody cares about the future of the country. President Trump has a bigger picture of a lot of other issues he's looking for. If we have a President Biden again, this never gets any better. And I think President Trump sees this as a moment that, if this gets fixed, then maybe a few people don't vote, and then we have a whole host of other issues in the future.

CAVUTO: All right.

LANKFORD: Again, he's got a task he's taken on. Respectful. I have also got a task I have got to do. I have got to actually get this fixed. [Fox News, 4/18/24, 4:45-6:14]

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK):

CAVUTO: Do you think, had they passed that measure, which would have at least put a ceiling on that sort of number, we wouldn't be looking at what we're looking at now...


CAVUTO: ... and we wouldn't have seen a pursuit of Mr. Mayorkas?

LANKFORD: Well, I don't know if we wouldn't have had an impeachment vote or not.

Obviously, the House still has major problems. And there's a major issue with Mayorkas basically telling false information to the House. You have got all kinds of other areas where they have chosen not to enforce the law. Don't know whether the impeachment would have moved in the House, but we wouldn't have had 5,800 people illegally crossing the border yesterday. There's no way that would have happened. We would have had double the number of detention beds. We would have had double the number of deportation flights, a change in the asylum standard, a quick turnaround process that was in that bill. So, no, we would have had a much, much smaller number than what we had just yesterday. [Fox News, 4/18/24, 1:45-2:33]

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): “It is interesting, Republicans, four months ago, would not give funding for Ukraine, for Israel and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy. So, we actually locked arms together and said, we're not going to give money for this. We want a change in law. And now, it's interesting, a few months later, when we're finally getting to the end, they're like, oh, just kidding, I actually don't want a change in law because of presidential election year. We all have an oath to the Constitution and we have a commitment to say we're going to do whatever we can to be able to secure the border.” [Fox News Sunday, 9:12:08 – 9:12:36, 1/28/24]

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): “We have to decide as Republicans: what are we going to do about the border, leave it open or actually leave it closed?” [Fox and Friends, 2/5/24, 8:16-8:22]

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS): "We're playing the hand that's dealt us. We do not get to choose who they send to the negotiations. I think that this is such an important issue, that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the border, that I'm willing to do this however we can." [Press Conference, 8:56 – 9:12, 1/9/24; VIDEO]

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “So it's got to be dealt with, it's got to be dealt with now, and it's got to be dealt with in the context of the national security package that is under consideration here in the Congress. So my hope would be that the Democrats will come to the conclusion that the only way you solve this problem is with serious, meaningful policy changes that reduce the flow and regain operational control of the southern border. Absent that, there is not going to be a package that passes here. So Senator Lankford is on the lead on this. As the leader pointed out, doing a great job and our members stand united behind him -- behind him in getting strong, meaningful, serious policy reforms that will get the southern border under control.” [Stakeout, 1/9/24; 4:52-5:34; VIDEO]

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “But I will say this: any idea that, somehow, if we get majorities next year and we get the White House, that this gets done with a Republican majority in the Senate, I think does not understand the Democrats. The Democrats will not give us anything close to this if we have to get 60 votes in the United States Senate in a Republican majority. We have a unique opportunity here. The timing is right to do this and what the Democrats get out of this is funding that the administration, the White House, and many Democrats here in the Senate want for Ukraine." [Press Conference, 19:55 - 20:33, 1/17/24]

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “There is absolutely no way that we would get the kind of border policy that’s being talked about right now with a Republican majority in the Senate… “This is a unique moment in time. It’s an opportunity to get some really conservative border [policies] that we haven’t been able to get for 40 years.” [Punchbowl, 1/17/24]

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “So it's got to be dealt with, it's got to be dealt with now, and it's got to be dealt with in the context of the national security package that is under consideration here in the Congress. So my hope would be that the Democrats will come to the conclusion that the only way you solve this problem is with serious, meaningful policy changes that reduce the flow and regain operational control of the southern border. Absent that, there is not going to be a package that passes here.” [Stakeout, 4:51 - 5:19, 1/9/24]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “Senator Lankford, you have done an extraordinary job of negotiating what I think is going to be a successful compromise that is going to get support from Republicans and Democrats.” [Congressional Record, 1/10/24]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “  At the end of the day, I hope political advisers and everybody that is up for election next year know: You know what, you don't even need political courage to do the right thing here, because the good policy of border security is also good politics for the overwhelming majority of people that need a vote for this bill.  We are going to have 30 or 40 people on this side--not 30 or 40--I think we will probably have 25 or 30 Members in this body that won't vote for it. Some will be because it didn't go too far; the others will be, it didn't go far enough; some of them are closer in cycle. It is very difficult to explain; I get that. But we need about 70 votes coming out of this Chamber to create a momentum to get it done in the House. I am going to be one of those 70 votes.” [Congressional Record, 1/10/24]

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): “I am also glad we have James Lankford at the tip of the spear negotiating on behalf of Republicans. He has negotiated--I am part of the working group; I have seen progress. He has negotiated something that I think is important.  We cannot miss this opportunity. The stakes are too high, and the American people agree. Nearly half of those who responded to this poll--which was an even distribution, ideologically speaking--nearly half of them think we have an emergency at the border. They are right. I have been there several times. They are right. People are dying. [Congressional Record, 1/10/24]

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): “Forty-nine Republicans made this a priority — that is, the negotiation of border security into a supplemental — before Republicans could get behind it,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) told us. “Political calculations for the 2024 election associated with this bill are not what people sent us to come here to do.” [Punchbowl, 2/1/24]