It took a while, likely a couple of months, but last night Mitch McConnell finally saw the error of his ways in endorsing the disastrous “bipartisan border deal” that he and other Senate Republicans had worked out with Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden. During a closed-door meeting with his caucus, McConnell advised his fellow Republicans to vote against the bill in an anticipated procedural vote that Schumer is expected to put on the floor tomorrow. He had clearly seen the outrage over the measure coming from conservatives around the country, including Donald Trump. This move should all but doom the legislation which would require 60 votes to advance and doesn’t even have the support of all of the Democrats. There is no word yet as to whether Oklahoma Republican James Lankford will similarly back down. (Associated Press)
Facing a torrent of criticism from conservatives, Senate Republicans on Monday resisted advancing on a bipartisan proposal intended to clamp down on illegal border crossings, signaling a likely defeat in Congress that would leave leaders with no clear path to approve wartime aid for Ukraine.
In a dramatic turnaround, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recommended to GOP senators in a closed-door meeting that they vote against the first procedural vote Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the meeting who were not authorized to talk publicly about it and spoke anonymously.
It came just hours after the Kentucky Republican had urged colleagues on the Senate floor that “it’s now time for Congress to take action.” But McConnell has struggled to marshal his conference to support the package of $118 billion package of border enforcement policy and funding for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies.
Lankford is the missing piece of the puzzle here. As recently as yesterday, he went on Fox and Friends and continued to defend the bill, criticizing Republicans who were opposing it. He was generous enough to say that if conservatives were fighting against the idea of allowing 5,000 illegal aliens to be released into the country each day, “We can do 3,000.” The backlash against his plan back in his home state led some members of the Oklahoma Republican Party to hold a meeting to discuss censuring him, though the measure was not officially passed. Others took to social media calling on Lankford to resign.
Chuck Schumer still appears to be living in a fantasy world on this issue. He claimed yesterday that a “vast majority” of Senators want the bill to move forward. (He might want to revisit his elementary school math textbooks.) As of this morning, he still plans to hold the procedural vote tomorrow, but this most recent news could change that plan by the end of the day. It would be a huge political embarrassment to call a vote on a measure that was formerly trumpeted as having “broad bipartisan support” and have it fall short by dozens of votes.
Lankford’s recent defense of the bill included a claim that the new policy would include the addition of “ankle monitors for people that are actually coming through.” Really? Five thousand people per day will add up to nearly 1.8 million people by the end of the year. Do we actually have nearly two million ankle monitors lying around? And who would be monitoring the failure signals from that many monitors? Where would we find the personnel to dispatch to go investigate and locate the people who inevitably cut them off? Will the gotaways voluntarily strap on a monitor? This idea is nonsensical.
Lankford also claimed that his bill would “double the deportation flights.” That sounds like a fine idea at first glance, but who would we be deporting? You can’t deport the people that Joe Biden pardons en masse (which is nearly all of them) and the ones on the terror watch list or with prior criminal histories are already supposed to be deported. Of course, we’re barely vetting any of them in a serious fashion, so identifying deportation candidates is a rather hopeless prospect.
Nothing is assured in Washington, so it’s too soon to begin singing about the wicked witch being dead. I’ll believe it when Chuck Schumer either cancels the vote, the vote fails, or they pull the bill entirely. But at least for the moment, it appears as if common sense has gained a foothold and a very bad idea may be circling the drain.