Speaker Johnson: Border bill is 'even worse than we expected'

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Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) slammed the Senate’s bipartisan border deal hours after the upper chamber released text of the long-awaited agreement, writing that it is “even worse than we expected” and declaring it “dead on arrival” in the House.

“I’ve seen enough. This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created. As the lead Democrat negotiator proclaimed: Under this legislation, ‘the border never closes,’” Johnson wrote on X.

“If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival,” he added.

The scathing statement from Johnson jives with comments he made in the lead-up to the Senate releasing the text of its deal — he previously said that if the contents of the legislation were similar to what reports had speculated, it would be dead on arrival in the House. 

Shortly before Johnson’s statement, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) — who oversees the schedule in the lower chamber — said the Senate bill “will NOT receive a vote in the House.”

The $118 billion national security supplemental includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, aid for Indo-Pacific allies and the bipartisan border security agreement.

The border security component — which totals $20 billion — would give the federal government temporary authority to expel migrants when the average number of daily crossings exceeds a threshold, end “catch and release” and raise standards for asylum screenings and seek to process claims quicker, among other provisions.

Johnson’s announcement deals a major blow to the trio of Senator negotiators, who for months had worked towards striking a deal on the politically prickly matter of border security. Republicans had insisted that any aid for Ukraine be paired with legislation to address the southern border.

In recent weeks, however, as negotiators were closing in on a deal, Republicans had grown cold to the bipartisan talks, arguing that Biden has the tools at his disposal to address the situation at the southern border — and does not need new legislation from Congress. They also faced pressure from former President Trump on Truth Social, who urged against a border deal unless Republicans “get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people.”

Sen. James Lankford (Okla), the lead GOP negotiator on the border deal, almost immediately responded to Johnson’s decision, saying that he was “confused” how the bill could be worse than they expected.

“I’m a little confused how it’s worse than they expected when it builds border wall, expands deportation flights, expands ICE officers, border patrol officers, detention beds how it creates a faster process for deportations, clears up a lot of the long-term issues and loopholes that have existed in the asylum law and then gets us an emergency authority that stops the chaos right now on the border,” he said on a call with reporters.

“I’m a little confused,” Lankford continued. “I’ll have to be able to get with the Speaker’s team on that and to be able to find out what part would be ‘worse than what we’d expected’ based on the actual text and hopefully they’ve all had an opportunity to actually read it through the text.”

Al Weaver contributed. Updated at 10:26 p.m.

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