It’s an election year, which means it’s once again time for Republicans to care about the border. The GOP has done all it can to raise hell over the issue — from holding government funding hostage over their extreme demands, to trying to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to backing Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s legally dubious crusade against the federal government’s dominion over the border — while blocking efforts to bring about real change. Republicans in the House, for example, are refusing to back a bipartisan immigration deal. Their excuses as to why have varied, but one lawmaker is going so far as to claim Congress actually has zero obligation to address the issue at all.
In a video obtained by Rolling Stone, Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) declared on Tuesday that “Congress doesn’t have to do anything to secure our southern border and fix it.”
“Why would I help Joe Biden approve his dismal 33 percent [approval rating] when he can fix the border and secure it on his own? He can secure it on his own through executive order.” Nehls added while waving around a cigar outside of the Capitol. He went on to cite former President Donald Trump’s slew of executive orders addressing immigration, many of which were ultimately found to be unconstitutional.
— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) January 31, 2024
Nehls’ claim that it’s not Congress’ job to pass the legislation they’ve been demanding for months is absurd, and it also directly contradicts statements he made to Fox News in September of last year. Nehls told Fox News Digital that Republicans in the House had been granted a majority “for a reason” and were obliged to hold the Biden administration accountable.
“This starts with stopping the flow of illegal aliens burdening communities, combating human trafficking, and fighting the influx of fentanyl and illicit drugs poisoning our communities,” Nehls said, adding that “taxpayer dollars should be used to secure our nation, not further spread the consequences of an open border.”
“I was sent to Congress to fight for Texas, and I speak for them when I say they are sick and damn tired of empty promises,” Nehls said.
Nehls made a point to call out Rolling Stone in the video on Tuesday, saying that “if this is going to be on Rolling Stone, let’s put it out there.” He did not, however, immediately respond to a request for comment on the contradiction inherent in saying it’s not Congress’ job to address the border after having previously said it was on House Republicans to fix the issue.
So why would the guy who felt so strongly about Congress’ responsibility to help secure the border suddenly turn tail and attempt to tank the most promising piece of bipartisan immigration legislation in recent years? Because it’s an election year.
Earlier this month, Nehls said in a statement to CNN that he’s “not willing to do too damn much right now to help a Democrat and to help Joe Biden’s approval rating.”.
“I will not help the Democrats try to improve this man’s dismal approval ratings,” he added. “I’m not going to do it. Why would I? Chuck Schumer has had HR 2 on his desk since July. And he did nothing with it.”
Nehls used similar logic when discussing the GOP’s push to impeach Joe Biden. In a video obtained by Rolling Stone, he responded “Donald J. Trump 2024, baby!” when asked about the move.
Trump has been directly involved in efforts to kill the Senate border deal, openly encouraging Republicans to reject the legislation on social media, and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) admitted to Fox News earlier this month that he’s been communicating directly with the former president about the issue.
As previously reported by Rolling Stone, Trump has privately complained to his advisers that in supporting the proposed legislation, “stupid” Republicans could be handing Biden a major victory in the months before the two men will almost certainly go head to head in a rematch for the presidency.
Republicans in the Senate are visibly frustrated with the former president’s efforts to derail the legislation. “The border is a very important issue for Donald Trump,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters last week. “And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and Congress people that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem — because he wants to blame Biden for it — is really appalling.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned his colleagues in the lower chamber that they’re unlikely to get a better deal on immigration, even if Trump wins in 2024. But House Republicans seem committed to continuing their pattern of obstruction and infighting over the advancement of conservative policy goals. Why? Because as Nehls’ recent statements make clear that the ultimate Republican priority is re-electing Trump.
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