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Law & Border

donald trump border wall
Some G.O.P. members and aides are pissed that they’ve been portrayed as kowtowing to Trump, and want to make clear that they were pissed about the border issue before Trump dive bombed into the discussion. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
January 31, 2024

Once again, Donald Trump is taking credit for driving a nail into the coffin of the Senate immigration deal, the technically-still-in-the-works bipartisan effort dreamed up by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer as a way to address the border crisis while approving more funding for Ukraine. “It’s not going to happen,” Trump declared on Saturday at an event in Las Vegas. And once again, Republican voters are quickly coalescing around the notion that only Trump can fix the border crisis—an alarming and pressing issue, with nearly 10,000 migrants crossing from Mexico into the U.S. in a single day last month, a record high—effectively transforming a legislative debate into a political cudgel for Trump to pummel Biden over the next 10 months of this forever election. 

Trump’s comments echoed the sentiments of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who declared a day earlier that any Senate bill was “dead on arrival.” McConnell, too, has apparently changed his tune on a legislative fix, bowing to the emerging election-year logic that it might be better to keep the crisis alive than to compromise with Democrats. “Politics on this have changed,” McConnell acknowledged during a private Senate Republican meeting last Wednesday night, according to Punchbowl. “We don’t want to do anything to undermine him.” (Texas Rep. Troy Nehls offered an even more cynical take on Wednesday, telling a reporter, “Why would I help Joe Biden improve his dismal 33 percent [approval rating]?”)