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Trump slams border deal as ‘catastrophe waiting to happen’

Former President Trump slammed the U.S.-Mexico border deal as a “catastrophe waiting to happen” in a flurry of Truth Social posts written on Saturday.

In a Saturday morning post, Trump called the southern border the “worst” in the “history of the world” and alleged that the U.S. might suffer from another terrorist attack.

“Just 3 years ago we had the strongest and safest Border in U.S. History,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Today we have a catastrophe waiting to happen. It is the WORST BORDER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, an open wound in our once great Country. TERRORISTS ARE POURING IN, UNCHECKED, FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. There is now a 100% chance that there will be MAJOR TERROR ATTACKS IN THE USA. CLOSE THE BORDER!”

Trump continued his messaging to Republicans in Congress that they should abstain from reaching a bipartisan deal addressing the southern border.

“A BAD BORDER DEAL IS FAR WORSE THAN NO BORDER DEAL,” Trump wrote in another post on Truth Social.

He said that the border has become a “weapon of mass destruction” and that the U.S. went from having the “best” border in history to “worst” in “just” three years, referring to the timeline since President Biden took over the Oval Office.

The former president’s stance on the current Senate negotiations over giving aid to Ukraine and other countries and addressing the border is giving lawmakers trouble in reaching an agreement. It has also upset lawmakers on both sides as they deal with the former president’s influence over the Republican Party.


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For Johnson, the road gets rougher from here

BY MIKE LILLIS – 01/27/24 6:00 AM ET

SHARETWEET

For House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), the easy part is over.

The untested GOP leader stormed into the top ranks of power last fall and spent the first three months negotiating a series of spending bargains with President Biden, all without suffering the same political blowback as his predecessor, former Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was booted from the Speakership for cutting very similar deals.

But steeper challenges await in the coming weeks, when Congress confronts a pair of must-meet deadlines on long-term government spending, and Johnson will potentially face a crucial decision on how — or whether — to move more Ukraine aid through the lower chamber against the wishes of former President Trump and conservatives in Johnson’s own conference.

In the meantime, the House next week is expected to take up a bipartisan tax package that’s quickly incensed Johnson’s right flank, both for its substance and because of the fast-track process by which GOP leaders want to bring it to the floor.

The combined agenda has created a hazardous terrain for the new Speaker. He was given early space to operate with impunity but will have to navigate gingerly through the looming legislative minefield amid new threats that a misstep could find him following McCarthy out the door.

Even some leadership allies are quick to acknowledge that Johnson is in no easy spot.

“He was thrown into the deepest end of the pool with the heaviest weights around his neck and told to learn to swim. It’s been a pretty brutal process, and it’s tough, and this is the second toughest piece of the calendar to negotiate,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who served as interim Speaker between McCarthy’s ouster and Johnson’s swearing in, told reporters in the Capitol.

“He’s not been around these decisions, so he’s had to learn a lot and try to feel his way through.”

FILE – Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., gives a statement to reporters, Jan. 12, 2024, at the Capitol in Washington. Approaching his first 100 days on the job, Johnson faces daunting choices ahead: He can try to corral conservatives, who are pushing hard-right policies, to work together as a team, or he can keep reaching out to Democrats for a bipartisan coalition to pass legislation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In the early stages, Johnson has been a quick study. Since taking the gavel in late October, he’s championed two short-term spending bills, known as continuing resolutions (CRs), to prevent a government shutdown. And this month, he secured a third bipartisan deal on topline numbers to govern 2024 spending through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Oct. 1.

Johnson’s bipartisan deal-making has won him accolades from Democrats, who have welcomed his willingness to reach across the aisle and forge agreements to keep the government running.

“I think he understands [that] to govern you’ve got to be able to get outside the comfort zone and compromise,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). “And I gotta give it to him, I think he’s trying to do that.”

But the cooperative gestures have also infuriated conservatives, particularly those in the far-right Freedom Caucus, who had accused McCarthy of frittering away the powers of the House majority, and are now lobbing the same critiques at Johnson.

“People voted for Republicans to be in the majority, not to count on Democrats to pass bad legislation that Republicans shouldn’t be bringing to the floor,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), former head of the Freedom Caucus, said of the tax deal.

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The tax legislation, which combines cuts for businesses with benefits for low-income families, passed out of the Ways and Means Committee with a resounding 40 to 3 vote. But the exclusion of a controversial credit for state and local taxes, known as SALT, has infuriated moderate Republicans in wealthier states, while conservatives are trashing the deal for providing child tax credits to families of undocumented immigrants.


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One of those aggravated lawmakers has been Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who said it would be “immoral” not to strike a border deal just to assist the former president politically.

“I didn’t come here to have the president as a boss or a candidate as a boss. I came here to pass good, solid policy,” Tillis said Thursday. “It is immoral for me to think you looked the other way because you think this is the linchpin for President Trump to win.”

Ever since winning the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Trump has opposed the legislation to address the border which also includes funding for U.S. allies, partially because he thinks the border provisions do not go far enough, but also wants to use the southern border issue against Biden, his likely rival in November general election.

Negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico border accelerated in mid-December when the Biden administration officials and the White House joined ongoing talks. Sen. Lankford (R-Okla.), Senate GOP chief border negotiator, has publicly asked the White House to participate earlier, ever since the negotiations started in mid-November.

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