White House Amplifies Mcconnell’s Comments on Trump’s Border Security Obstruction

White House Amplifies Mcconnell’s Comments on Trump’s Border Security Obstruction

WASHINGTON — The White House seized on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claims that former President Donald Trump refused to accept any bipartisan solution to toughen border security regulations.

McConnell, R-Ky., made the remarks hours before the Senate approved a massive $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel, culminating months of internal GOP infighting that resulted in no immigration increases.

“This week Senator McConnell explicitly stated why the toughest, fairest bipartisan border legislation in modern American history is stalled: ‘Our nominee for president did not seem to want us to do anything at all,'” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates wrote in an email on Thursday.

“After President Biden worked with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to assemble a landmark deal that secured the border and cracked down on fentanyl, congressional Republicans have been direct about why many of them sided with drug cartels and human smugglers over the Border Patrol Union and the Chamber of Commerce — because Donald Trump told them to,” Bates said. She also pointed out that nationwide crime rates are falling. “President Biden will not tolerate extremist Republican officials who harm American neighborhoods. “He will continue to fight for the toughest, fairest border security agreement in decades.”

The White House’s attack on Trump and Republicans comes amid a battle between Biden and the former president. Concerns about immigration and the asylum system have been crucial to Trump’s campaign message, and polls suggest that voters trust Trump more than Biden on border issues.

Biden is attempting to mitigate his vulnerability by claiming that Trump is unconcerned about border security and is using the subject just for political benefit. The new White House statement suggests that Biden’s team will continue to depend on that argument. McConnell told reporters Tuesday, hours before the bill passed, that Trump’s opposition to a bipartisan border solution contributed to the delay in approving Ukraine aid.

“I think the past president had mixed feelings about it. “We all thought the border was a complete disaster, including myself,” McConnell remarked. “First, there was an attempt to pass legislation that required you to work with Democrats, and then a lot of our members thought it wasn’t good enough. Then our presidential nominee appeared to want us to do nothing. It took us months to work through it. So we ended up doing the supplemental that was originally offered, which addressed some but not all of the problems—it did not solve the border problem, but it did address the current developing risks.”

Biden and Democrats first resisted Republican proposals to include border security in a foreign aid deal. But they eventually backed down and reached an agreement with McConnell’s designee, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who described it as “by far the most conservative border security bill in four decades.”

The measure they produced would have raised the threshold for seeking asylum and featured a slew of triggers to turn away new entrants, but it lacked the legalization elements Democrats had initially sought as part of any immigration deal.

Trump pushed Republicans to defeat the package regardless, claiming on social media that “we need a strong, powerful, and essentially ‘PERFECT’ border and, unless we get that, we are better off not making a deal.”

In a different blog post, he stated: “I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people, many from parts unknown, into our once great, the soon to be great again, Country!”

Despite McConnell’s support for the bipartisan package, it was stalled by a Republican filibuster, with only four GOP senators voting to move it in February, while the rest argued that it fell short.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the primary Democratic negotiator on the border agreement, said in an interview, “This has all taken far too long. But what if, as a Democrat, you wind up with the complete Ukraine, Israel, and humanitarian relief package while fundamentally exposing Republicans on their most important issue, immigration? Consider whether that is a political deal worth making.

“We got Ukraine done,” he declared. “And we improved our position dramatically on the issue that we were most vulnerable on in the election: immigration.”

Since then, the Biden administration has considered executive initiatives to dissuade illegal immigration, but any unilateral measures would pale in contrast to what Congress can accomplish.

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