CNN’s Dana Bush questioned Sen. James Lankford — the top GOP negotiator for the bipartisan border bill — about how former President Donald Trump’s condemnation of the legislation could impact its chances of getting passed. Lankford said Trump is merely in “political campaign” mode and blamed Biden as being complacent in the issue.
Lankford appeared as a guest on CNN’s “Inside Politics” on Tuesday, giving an update on bill, which was named “The Dignity Act of 2023. He was frank, saying his team is working to identify solutions for the country’s national security and noted that every border issue may not get resolved all at once.
Bash then played a clip of the political party’s leading presidential candidate, Trump, who dragged the bill and Lankford’s efforts in its legislative process.
“I think this is a very bad bad bill for his career and especially in Oklahoma,” Trump said in the video. “I won all 77 counties in Oklahoma. Though — I know those people, they’re not going to be happy about this. Nobody’s going to be happy about this.”
With support waning for the bipartisan Senate border bill, @SenatorLankford, the top GOP negotiator for the bill, tells @DanaBashCNN he’s “legitimately surprised” at the moment Republicans are in. pic.twitter.com/cgpvV09eCf
— Inside Politics (@InsidePolitics) February 6, 2024
When Bash asked Lankford how he and his party feels about Trump as a leader who Bash said is taking on the “job” of “killing a deal that could make a crisis at the border better,” Lankford said Trump is just looking at the “political issue” as a talking point for his “political campaign.”
“I’m not in a political campaign right now, I’m in the United States Senate, and I’m focused on what does it take to actually secure the country right now. What can we do to actually solve a problem. In December we had the highest number of crossings ever in the history of the country. We’ve had a dramatic rise in non-Spanish speaking immigrants that have come across in the past year. Folks from China, folks from Russia, folks from all the Stans, Pakistan and the middle east. We’ve had a rapid rise in folks that are coming from terrorist areas in West Africa. We have a real national security issue. This is not just an immigration issue,” Lankford said, then listing off a series of border-related stats
Bash asked that if what Lankford said is true, why would someone let politics supersede the importance of a national security. Lankford said he’ll let voters decide, and then laid into President Joe Biden, stating he currently has the power to make a difference at the border.
“This president, President Biden, does have authorities he’s not using. President Trump had authorities that he did use, President Obama had authorities,” Lankford said. “My push has been, even if President Biden forced the border the same way Obama did we’d be in a very different nation right now as far as what’s happening on immigration. We have six times as many people crossing illegally now than we had under President Obama. We have a much higher number than that than we had crossing under President Trump.”
He continued: “There are things on the border that are not being done right now. Again, I go back to, President Obama enforced the border much better than President Biden did. If he just did what President Obama did, we’d be in a much better place on it.”
The Senate released the proposal on Sunday, supported by Democrats and a portion of the Republican caucus, though it lacks support in the GOP-controlled House. It seeks to address border-related issues, including strengthening border security, infrastructure and a process for obtaining U.S. legal status, among other items.