As former President Donald Trump openly condemns the Senate’s border legislation, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) told colleagues Saturday he won’t consider a border deal anytime soon. But does that mean Trump is calling the shots?
“Of course not. He’s not calling the shots. I am calling the shots for the House, that’s our responsibility,” Johnson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker on Sunday.
Trump posted on social media last week that a border bill “is not necessary” and blamed President Joe Biden for not dealing with it himself.
At least some Republican members of Congress are listening.
“Congress doesn’t have to do anything to secure our southern border and fix it,” Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) said Tuesday, Rolling Stone reported. “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 added.
Trump later denied trying to spike a border deal, but he went on to repeat his opposition to anything short of the perfect solution.
He said he has told legislators to reject legislation as currently proposed.
“A lot of people do call me, they respect me. And they say, ’What do you think?’” Trump said at a press conference. “If the bill’s not going to be a great bill and really solve the problem, I wouldn’t do it at all. Not for political reasons, just for U.S. reasons.”
Trump has campaigned on unilateral executive action, pledging to “be a dictator” on “day one” in order to close the southern border.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) recently said that Trump has “indicated to senators that he does not want us to solve the problem at the border, he wants to lay the blame for the border at Biden.”
On Friday, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) posted to social media that a bipartisan deal had been reached and that full text would be released over the weekend for a vote the following week.
Another negotiator, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” the deal “ends the practice of catch and release” — in which migrants are detained and then released before a future court date — and expedites asylum claim processing, but the full details of the legislation are not yet public.
As speaker, Johnson’s challenge is to unite factions of the Republican majority that voted to remove his predecessor, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in October.
Johnson insisted he is in control of the House of Representatives’ plans to address the border. House Republicans passed their own bill last year, H.R. 2, but it has no shot of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.
He told Welker on Sunday his priorities for border legislation are based on a trip he took with colleagues to the border. “We heard from the people in charge,” he said. “They said these are the things that you must do to stem the flow.”
“And I have been saying this far longer than President Trump has,” Johnson added. “I have been saying what the requirements are to fix the problem.”
Johnson also complained about being cut out of Senate negotiations, saying he has not been offered a briefing.
“I suggested to Senate leadership that the House should be involved,” he said. “I’ve had individual senators call and give me tips and offered things that are going on in the room, but we’ve not been a part of that negotiation.”
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