House Speaker Mike Johnson is adamant that former President Donald Trump is not calling the shots for congressional Republicans’ opposition to the Senate border deal.
“Of course not. He’s not calling those shots. I am calling the shots for the House,” Johnson (R-La.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday when asked. “That’s our responsibility. And I have been [saying] this far longer than President Trump has.”
Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to derail the deal in order to deny President Biden a critical legislative victory and boost Trump’s 2024 general election prospects.
Trump has repeatedly admonished the agreement both publicly and privately in talks with GOP lawmakers, describing it at one point as a “horrible open borders betrayal of America.”
Johnson endorsed Trump last year, as have all of the top House Republican leaders.
The text of the border deal had not been released as of the time Johnson sat down for the NBC interview, but is expected later in the day Sunday.
“What we’re saying is you have to stem the flow. The President has executive authority right now,” Johnson added. “He could close the border literally overnight but he refuses to do it.”
Last October Biden unveiled a sprawling $106 billion supplemental package request featuring funding for war-torn Israel as well as Ukraine and the border, which Republicans demanded be included.
Republicans, who have been deeply divided internally on additional aid to Ukraine, slammed the border security provisions as woefully inadequate, prompting Senate negotiators to iron out a deal.
While the text hadn’t yet been released, details of it, seen by The Post revealed it would create an authority to automatically reject migrants trying to enter the US once crossings exceed 5,000 in a day.
Many prominent Republican detractors such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have contended that it tolerates too much illegal crossing into the US.
On Saturday Johnson announced that the House will vote on a standalone $17.6 billion package for Israel without spending cuts attached, as he previously demanded.
The package, which does not include additional support for Ukraine, has been seen as a way of countering the broader supplemental that featured the border provisions.
“Instead of working in a bipartisan way, House Republicans are playing a political game that does nothing to secure the border, nothing to help the people of Ukraine, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians,” the White House fired back late Saturday.
“The Administration strongly opposes their proposal.”
Last Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee green-lit two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over alleged dereliction of duty and lying to Congress
The Biden administration has recoiled at the move, dismissing it as a partisan venture. Mayorkas’ team fiercely disputed allegations that he lied to Congress and insisted he’s complied with the law while also stressing that none of his predecessors had the border fully locked down either.
Johnson, who twice helped Trump fight impeachment efforts against him, defended the move.
“What we’re suggesting here is that Secretary Mayorkas has openly defied federal law,” he said. “He has also lied to Congress. He has misrepresented facts over and over.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures. And that’s where we are.”
During fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30, over a record-breaking 2.47 million migrant encounters were recorded along the Mexico frontier, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
Another 302,034 illegal border-crossers were apprehended in December.
Johnson also elaborated on his criticisms of the Biden administration’s retaliation against Iranian proxies following the deaths of three US soldiers in Jordan.
“We should not be appeasing Iran,” he said, claiming that, “we’re projecting weakness on the world stage.” “We need to act to decimate the Iran Central Bank, the assets that they held there.”
“We need to put big-time pressure, maximum pressure on their oil exports. There’s a lot that we can do to Iran to send a message instead of this appeasement strategy.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan knocked critics of Biden as “armchair quarterbacks” and expressed confidence in the steps taken.
“We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “We are confident in the course that we are on going forward.”