Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the lead GOP architect of the bipartisan Senate border security deal, pushed back on Republican critics, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), for rushing to condemn the legislation.
Lankford during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” also responded to the scathing criticism of the legislation by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who panned the proposal Sunday as the “Border Capitulation Bill” and more bluntly as a “crap-sandwich of a border bill.”
Lankford noted that Lee had previously insisted on giving senators at least three weeks to review the 370-page bill but is expressing opposition after having less than a day to study it.
“He needs three weeks to be able to read it, but he’s already opposed to it. So again, people have to be able to read it and go through it themselves. Don’t just go off of Facebook post somewhere on what the bill says,” Lankford said.
Lankford, who spent four months negotiating the legislation and said it “blew up” his Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, said it’s “unfortunate” that the Speaker has declared the Senate bill is “even worse than expected” and “dead on arrival” in the House.
The Oklahoma senator lamented Johnson’s condemnation of the bill without taking more time to digest reforms such as raising the standard of migrants seeking asylum, eliminating the backlog at immigration courts and granting the president new power to expel migrants and shut down the border.
“Unfortunate that he would step out and be able to see that right away, before, obviously, he has had a chance to be able to read it as well, and to be able to go through it,” he said of Johnson’s declaration that the bill has no chance of passing the House.
Lankford said Republicans need to make a decision about whether they want to enact some meaningful border security reforms into law or to let the border crisis continue unabated and allow an average of 10,000 people to steam into the country each day, many of them unvetted.
“The key aspect of this, again, is are we, as Republicans, going to have press conferences and complain the border’s bad and then intentionally leave it open after the worst month in American history in December?” Lankford argued.
“Now we’ve got to actually determine, are we going to just complain about things? Are we going to actually … change as many things as we can if we have the shot?” he said.
Lankford has told reporters that under the bill, once the daily average of migrants encountered at the border reaches 5,000, President Biden will be forced to shut down the border until the Department of Homeland Security regains operational control.
And he has dismissed talk among some GOP lawmakers that passing a bipartisan border deal will protect Biden from attacks over his immigration record.
“I’ve had some Republicans say, ‘Well, this will make Joe Biden whole [on immigration].’ I don’t think anyone is going to see Joe Biden as the border security president. I just don’t think there’s any chance of that. Because what we’ve seen the last three years is an open border like our country’s never experienced. So I don’t think when we pass this bill everybody’s going to suddenly think he’s the savior of the closed border,” Lankford told reporters last week.
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Author: Alexander Bolton