GOP senator says some conservatives might scuttle a bipartisan immigration-Ukraine deal to stick it to Biden

Sen. James Lankford
Sen. James LankfordAP Photo/J Pat Carter
  • A key GOP senator raised the spectre that some in his party want to talk bipartisan immigration talks.

  • "There are some that are saying, 'Hey, we don't want Biden to actually get credit for doing anything on the border," Sen. James Lankford said.

  • Lankford has helped lead negotiations over a trade off of tougher immigration laws in exchange for Ukraine aid.

Republican Sen. James Lankford, the leading GOP lawmaker on bipartisan immigration talks, said that some conservatives want to tank a potential deal over concern that it could hand President Joe Biden a political win.

"There are some that are saying, 'Hey, we don't want Biden to actually get credit for doing anything on the border, because obviously, he's made a huge mess," Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told The Washington Post.

Lankford has been at the center of months-long talks that would pair President Joe Biden's request for Ukraine aid with stricter immigration enforcement. Biden asked top leaders to come to the White House earlier this week as he pressed them on the urgency of getting Ukraine more military funds for its war against Russia.

The possibility that the talks might be tanked to try to hurt Biden's reelection chances are just another reminder that November's presidential election is rapidly approaching. Polling also shows that Americans are deeply unimpressed with the current situation at the Southern border. In December, federal officials recorded the highest number of illegal border crossings ever in a single month period.

Republicans have described the border as a national security disaster, raising the question why they may scuttle a deal that could give them some of the changes they are seeking.

The politics of the situation are incredibly dicey.

Conservatives and President Donald Trump have expressed skepticism about a possible Senate-led deal.

"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, but soon to be great again, Country," Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth, Wednesday evening.

Many of the skeptics have pointed to the possibility that November's elections could hand Republicans control of Washington. Some House Republicans have said that they want to see their immigration law changes, known as HR-2, in a final deal, a request that would be a non-starter in the Senate given how conservative the House legislation is compared to current law.

House Speaker Mike Johnson can't afford to greater anger conservative lawmakers, whom he needs to hold his narrow majority together especially ahead of potential limited government shutdowns.

On the left, some Democratic lawmakers are skeptical of the talks. Immigration rights advocates have pointed out that none of the discussions have included pathway to citizenship or protections for so-called Dreamers would be unprecedented. Historically, tougher border enforcement has been paired with more protections for the millions of undocumented migrants already in the US.

Read the original article on Business Insider