(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden publicly committed to using “new emergency authority to shut down the border” if lawmakers passed a compromise agreement brewing in the Senate, as the White House sought to overcome hardening opposition for the plan in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
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“Given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law,” Biden said in a statement Friday. “For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it,” he added.
The public statement pledging stringent enforcement at the border came as hopes for the agreement — which would also provide emergency aid to Ukraine — dampened, with House Speaker Mike Johnson saying that negotiations appeared stalled and that the deal faced tough odds with his members.
“If rumors of the draft proposal are true, it would have been dead on arrival in the House, anyway,” Johnson said in a memo to fellow House Republicans.
Johnson did not specify what rumored parts of a Senate plan he objects to, but major sticking points in the talks have included changes to asylum policy and humanitarian aid.
The negotiations, which have stretched on for weeks, have repeatedly encountered stumbling blocks. While Senate Republicans are eager to strike a deal that would both address the flood of migrants at the US-Mexico border and provide aid to Ukraine, conservatives in the House have balked at any deal that doesn’t adopt the severe restrictions they’re seeking.
Former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump has also publicly and privately pressured Republicans to reject anything less than a “perfect” deal, an aggressive stance aimed at scuttling talks and giving him an issue to run on ahead of the November presidential election. Democrats have questioned whether GOP lawmakers are negotiating in good faith, speculating that their Republican counterparts may not want to provide Biden a legislative victory that would address one of his greatest electoral liabilities.
“If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it,” Biden said Friday.
Johnson’s letter notes it has been nine months since the GOP-led House passed its own border legislation, which he said contains the “core” legislative reforms that are necessary for Biden “to resolve the border catastrophe.”
But Democrats in both chambers have widely opposed the House-passed bill, which would narrow asylum eligibility, require more migrants to be locked up in detention facilities, and restart border wall construction, among other actions.
Johnson also raised questions about whether Biden would enforce new immigration laws, asserting he won’t enforce the laws now on the books.
“He should sign an order right now to end the mass release of illegals and dangerous persons into our country,” he wrote.
Johnson also wrote the House would vote on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “as soon as possible” after a committee votes on articles next week.
Johnson also accused Biden and Mayorkas of willfully ignoring and undermining the nation’s immigration laws in ways that have opened up the border, and that it is “by necessity” that the House will move forward next week with impeaching the Homeland Security secretary.
--With assistance from Ellen M. Gilmer.
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