Joe Biden determined to use stunning Donald Trump-backed collapse of border deal as a weapon in 2024 campaign

biden-trump-scaled copy
'I say, that’s OK. Please blame it on me. Please.'

How it began: President Joe Biden was urgently seeking more money from Congress to aid Ukraine and Israel. He took a gamble by seizing on GOP demands to simultaneously address one of his biggest political liabilities — illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

How it ended: Biden came close to succeeding, before it all fell apart spectacularly. Now the President is trying to make the best of it after a major congressional deal was scuttled once Republican front-runner Donald Trump got involved. And Biden is intent on showing that the former President and his “Make America Great Again” Republican acolytes in Congress aren’t really interested in solutions.

In between: There is a story of a President willing to anger his own party’s activist class in an election year, rare hope for bipartisan progress on one of the third rails of American politics, and a sudden, stunning collapse publicly engineered by Trump that Biden’s team now sees as a political gift.

This account of Biden’s big gamble is based on interviews with more than a dozen White House aides, lawmakers, Biden administration officials and congressional aides, some of whom spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the back and forth over the collapsed deal, and what happens next.

The bipartisan legislative deal announced Sunday evening was the culmination of more than four months of negotiations that started with Senate Democrats and Republicans, and later included top Biden aides and Cabinet officials. It came after Republicans, led by then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, backed a temporary spending deal that kept the government operating but delivered no new funding for Ukraine.

McCarthy had insisted to the White House that any effort to continue U.S. funding for Ukraine needed to be linked to significant steps to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, long a GOP priority. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Biden’s most valuable Republican ally when it came to Ukraine aid, also began appealing to senior administration officials for the spending measure to include border provisions.

Inside the White House, there was no shortage of grumbling that Republicans were insisting on unrelated policy changes and holding up badly needed money for the Ukrainian armed forces.

But Biden and his advisers saw a potential upside as well, at a time when the President’s handling of immigration was one of his biggest political vulnerabilities and there were chaotic scenes at the border and in major Democratic-run cities where migrants are sleeping in police station foyers, bus stations and hotels.

Before long McCarthy was ousted and it took weeks to elect a replacement. New House Speaker Mike Johnson, elected Oct. 25, made clear that he, too, wanted to pair border security with any new Ukraine funding.

While the House was in disarray, a group of bipartisan senators quietly got to work.

The White House kept its distance until senior officials felt it was the right time to get directly involved, but there was also pressure from Republicans for them to join the talks. GOP lawmakers insisted it was necessary for Biden to expend some political capital and embrace a border compromise that could be unpopular with parts of his own party.

On Dec. 12, the White House dispatched senior officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to join the negotiations. The idea was to underscore Biden’s seriousness about cutting a deal with Republicans.

“Immediately after the Republicans demanded that the administration show up, they showed up,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, one of the negotiators.

Difficult negotiations stretched into 2024. But there were signs of progress and Biden was optimistic. So much so that on Jan. 18, he said he didn’t think there were any sticking points left.

In an effort to push the bill forward, Biden even adopted Trump’s own language saying he’d “shut down the border” if given the power — a stunning admission from a Democrat that was quickly and loudly condemned by activists in his own party.

The deal that emerged would have overhauled the asylum system to provide faster and tougher immigration enforcement, as well as given Presidents new powers to immediately expel migrants if authorities become overwhelmed with the number of people applying for asylum. It also would have added $20 billion in funding, a huge influx of cash.

It was never entirely clear what the White House strategy was to advance the border compromise in the House should it make it out of the Senate. Johnson repeatedly voiced resistance to how the agreement was shaping up. Asked why the administration was choosing to hash out a deal with the Senate and not the House, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre regularly pointed out that House Republicans left for the holidays in mid-December while talks were ongoing.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican, said it was a mistake that the White House didn’t negotiate with House Republicans directly, but that even so, if the deal “actually sealed the border, it could’ve sailed through.”

Enter the former President. He had been occupied for weeks by a defamation trial in New York City and fending off GOP challenges from Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley in Iowa and New Hampshire.

At a rally in Nevada on Jan. 27 — after solidifying his position as the far and away GOP front-runner — he said his piece: “As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America. I’ll fight it all the way.”

“A lot of the Senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me,” Trump added, followed by the 10 words that made Biden aides light up: “I say, that’s OK. Please blame it on me. Please.”

By the time the text of the bill was released last Sunday, the pile-up of Republicans willing to block it already appeared insurmountable. GOP lawmakers claimed Biden already could fix the situation at the border with existing authority. But some in Congress publicly echoed Trump in saying they didn’t want to give Biden a political win on an issue that they see as key to their 2024 hopes.

With that, the deal that the White House and many in the Senate thought would pass was headed for failure. In a stern address this week, the President vowed to make sure that voters understand why it foundered.

“I’ll be taking this issue to the country, and the voters are going to know that just at the moment we were going to secure the border and fund these other programs, the MAGA Republicans said ‘no’ because they’re afraid of Donald Trump,” Biden said.

The rapid collapse of Republican backing for the border compromise stunned even those who worked most closely on the agreement. Murphy said that even as late as Sunday, he had counted 20 to 25 GOP Senators as potential votes in favor of the deal.

“I am still shocked at how every single one of these Republicans, including many Republicans that were like, literally in the room with us — like, hours after helping us try to get the final product, they were declaring they were against it,” Murphy said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my time in Washington.”

To Biden aides, it was public validation of the argument the President had been making about Trump and his allies — that they had their own interests at heart, not the country’s.

Even in failure, the bipartisan agreement in principle was the closest Washington has come to significant revisions to border policy in two decades. And Biden allies are intent on making Republicans take the hit for any further scenes of chaos at the border.

It’s far from assured that Biden’s efforts to pin the blame on Trump will stick. His GOP critics will no doubt continue their relentless efforts to saddle the current Oval Office occupant with the country’s immigration woes. And the President still has to contend with sore feelings among progressive Democrats who feel the President sold them out by going all-in on tougher measures and language that had previously been a nonstarter for the party.

Biden, though, has his plan: “Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.”

___

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


22 comments

  • PeterH

    February 8, 2024 at 11:50 am

    By not voting on their own Republican authored strongest immigration reform bill in decades……Republicans in the Senate have cowered to Trump and in turn left the door open for Democrats and Independents to attack EVERY REPUBLICAN who rejected the legislation. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are now punching bags by their vote to maintain the status quo on the border.

    • Spinmeister

      February 8, 2024 at 12:39 pm

      You had the Presidency, House, and Senate and did nothing. Start the spin.

      • Dont Say FLA

        February 8, 2024 at 3:12 pm

        Some might say attempted changes of subject from the present day issues with a present day failed political party are the spin. You’re not very good at this, are you.

    • Keystone Keys

      February 11, 2024 at 11:05 am

      Yet both will get easily re-elected.

  • My Take

    February 8, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    An early start on the Second Trump Reich’s America Hell crusade.

  • My Take

    February 8, 2024 at 1:27 pm

    The flood of illegal immigrants is now the TRUMP TSUNAMI.

    Or TRUMP TIDAL WAVE for the more poorly educated MAGAists.

    • Impeach Biden

      February 8, 2024 at 2:12 pm

      The Demo spin machine is running overtime. Now who takes the
      Blame for
      The 10 million that have entered since the 3 Stooges took over. Spin that!

      • Dont Say FLA

        February 8, 2024 at 3:15 pm

        The border is nothing but a tool of political manipulation.

        The Dems opened the door so they could blame the GOP for refusing to close it. And the GOP just fell for it

        Either Trump is either a moron or he is indebted to Putin, and Putin is collecting by having Ukraine funding shut down. Tbh, it’s both.

  • MARILYN NELSON

    February 8, 2024 at 1:33 pm

    IT AINT POLITICAL! IT’S TREASON. OUR BORDERS ARE WIDE OPEN AND WE HAVE ARMY AGE MEN MARCHING IN……..

    • Dont Say FLA

      February 8, 2024 at 3:15 pm

      Now there’s an idea. Sign them up for the Army. Nobody is signing up anymore.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Politicale Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

    February 8, 2024 at 6:39 pm

    Good evening America,
    Trump had and continues to have absloutly nothing to do with what President Dementia’s handlers (how ya doing 8rack & Mlchele?) are trying to blaim him with.
    Y’all leftys done crapped in your pants and the “STINK’S ALL ON YOU”.
    Only “ELECTED OFFICIALS” get the credit/blaim for how the bill was crafted and how the votes went down.
    Trump is a private citizen and casting shade on “The Donald” is ludicriss and a desperate act of sheer stupidity which 100% of the voters ( be they SAGE PATRIOTS, RINOS, or DOOK 4 BRAINS LEFTYS) totally see as a last gasp attempt of THE LEFT to try and dodge the blaim.
    All voters see this and are disgusted….Trump will be President. 100% YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK.
    The EARL OF POLITICS is always here to share his Sage Wisdom.
    “WAKE UP AMERICA”
    Thank you America, EPA

    • Earl Pitts "Sage Politicale Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

      February 8, 2024 at 7:03 pm

      *****Just a quick message to all my BESTY LEFTY’S out there who know the Sage Political Wisdom of ME Earl Pitts American.*****
      EARL PREACHES ON:
      Do yourselves a favor, my Besty Leftys, and seceretly cast your votes for Trump. It will totally free you of the torture of constantly “SCREAMING AT THE SKY” for the entirety of Trumps Second Term, This Time He Will Be Known Afectionatly As “47”.
      After Trumps 2nd Term Is Coming To A Close I, Earl Pitts American, will advise you Besty Leftys on who to vote for “48”.
      Thank you my Besty Leftys I know I can count on you to follow my advice on voting for”47″.
      Earl Pitts American
      *ps: you can keep your Trump vote a “secret” from all your Dook 4 Brains Friends”. That way you can still live your devient and perverse lifestyle and your Dook Friends wont Cancel you.*

    • rick whitaker

      February 8, 2024 at 7:05 pm

      earl shitts, first you lie to us by saying desantis had a 100% chance of being elected, and now just days after his quitting, you lie to us again by saying trump is 100% going to win. i’m so glad you are on the losing side. it is nice to be on the side of truth, i love it, you are too old to change so you are stuck with your pathetic lies.

      • Earl Pitts "Sage Politicale Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

        February 8, 2024 at 8:41 pm

        Thank you Rick and welcome back,
        That was a fine example of your excellant talants of following-up my Sage Posting of Great Wisdom with your wacky lefty commentary, cleaverly designed to elevate my reputation as The Planets Most Sage Political Expert.
        Rick thanks again, welcome home, you are re-hired!
        Earl Pitts American

    • Stu Pitts

      February 8, 2024 at 7:07 pm

      My brover Erl is right!!

      • Earl Pitts "Sage Politicale Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

        February 8, 2024 at 8:34 pm

        Thanks Stuart Pitts American,
        You are a fine Patriot and Brother.
        Earl Pitts”Stuarts Brother” American

  • My Take

    February 9, 2024 at 1:02 am

    To the Trumpvangelicals:
    Taylor Swift is an angel, an angel assigned by Jesus to build a mighty following in innocent fandom, to be turned at the right moment sgainst Lucifer’s demon agent and his army of dupes, dopes, dullards, dregs, and dunces.

    • Earl Pitts "Sage Politicale Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

      February 9, 2024 at 9:22 am

      Wow My Take,
      Thank you so much, I’ve never thought about TS and FemDom at the same time before. Thats HOT HOT HOT and gets Earl all excit……oh wait….. you said fandom …… sigh ….. what a buzz kill.
      But thanks anyway its still got my juices flowing. EPA

    • Dont Say FLA

      February 9, 2024 at 11:21 am

      I wonder how things will go down when Swift agents in Zurich, be they 12 years girls or not, are instructed to commence internet phone call swatting the homes of gun collecting MAGA voters?

      Ain’t gonna be no security teams telling the cops “everything’s fine, go away.”

      Probably gonna be mini-Wacos all around flyover country and the bible belt in the coming months unless the MAGAs all wise up and shut their gums.

  • Jonald T Drump

    February 9, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    When I said “they’re coming for me because they’re coming for you,” I had that backwards.

    Illegal immigrants are coming for you because they, the DOJ, are coming for me.

    I will do anything, ANYTHING, in trying to keep the DOJ from getting me.

    I will throw the US border and every legal resident of every border state under the bus by cancelling the “the sky is the limit” border deal being offered to keep Americans safe.

    I will DeFund Ukraine for my buddy Putin.

    What else I got? Nothing. Give me power!!!! PLEASE!!!!!

  • Keystone Keys

    February 11, 2024 at 11:02 am

    What is bad for Democrats, is good for America.

    • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

      February 11, 2024 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks Keystone,
      Here is copy of an intetesting article I picked up on a trusted news source:
      It was from ….. well I think it was CNN but I’ve been so busy watching “The Taylor and Kelsy Bowl” that I’m not totally sure which “Trusted News Source” it came from.
      STAND BY FOR SAGE NEWS:
      WASHINGTON, D.C. — After the shock of a Special Counsel report that characterized the President as mentally incompetent to stand trial, Biden has joined the growing chorus of voices in calling for the President to step down. “President Hoover needs to do the right thing. He’s in over his head. Can’t even do his job right,” said Biden to the nurse administering his daily medications. “Eisenhower is an honorable man, and he needs to do the honorable thing. I was speaking with Emperor Hirohito about it just last Saturwednesday. Blamflibbernuzzit!” At publishing time, Republicans had drafted a resolution in support of the President’s call for the President to step down.
      AND THAT, AMERICA IS THE REST OF THE STORY.
      Earl Pitts “The Good Earl” American

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories


This is default text for notification bar