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Speaker Johnson says he has not been briefed on Senate border talks

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Sunday revealed that he has not been offered a briefing on the bipartisan Senate border talks taking place but said that some negotiators said they would “send [him] something … that’s palatable.”

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he was offered a briefing on the hard-fought compromise being negotiated in the upper chamber, Johnson said, “Well, when they began to do the negotiation, I suggested immediately after taking the gavel, I suggested to the Senate leadership that the House should be involved.”

“We should be in the room. I wanted to send the chairmen of our committees of jurisdiction to be a part of that negotiation. And they said, ‘No, no. Let the Senate take care of it. We’ll send you something … that’s palatable.’ What we’re hearing right now is not,” he added.

Asked again if he was offered a briefing, Johnson said, “No. I have not been. No, I’ve had individuals senators call and give me tips and offered things that are going on in the room,” Johnson said. “But we’ve not been a part of that negotiation.”

Johnson said he has been “absolutely clear” from the moment he took the Speaker’s gavel last October that he prefers “functional equivalence” of H.R. 2 — a sweeping bill passed by the GOP-controlled House last year that would significantly restrict the asylum process and establish a new surveillance system to curb regional migration and crack down on the existing undocumented population.

H.R. 2 is widely opposed by congressional Democrats, prompting Senate negotiators to attempt to hammer out a different border security bill that would appease Republicans and unlock aid for Ukraine.

Negotiations have lasted weeks in the Senate as lawmakers are now racing against the clock as the upper chamber prepares for a two-week recess from Feb. 12 to 23.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a separate interview on Sunday poured cold water on the idea that the Senate could vote on a border deal before the recess and offered a message for those trying to pass H.R. 2 in the Senate: “It’s not gonna happen. So if it doesn’t happen, you go to do something else.”

Johnson on Sunday pointed to his trip to the U.S. southern border in January, where he and more than 60 Republicans visited Eagle Pass, Texas, where he called on the Biden administration to take more action to curb the migration influx.

“We heard from the people in charge, the border patrol agents, the people there. And they said, ‘These are the things that you must do to stem the flow. And the reason we have the biggest immigration catastrophe, border catastrophe in U.S. history is because President Biden took these actions,'” Johnson recounted.

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