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GOP senators furious at Trump for killing their immigration deal

By Stew Davidson
January 28, 2024

Recent developments in the United States Senate have revealed a growing rift within the Republican Party over a proposed bipartisan border security deal.

Former President Donald Trump's active opposition to the deal is causing significant tension among GOP senators.

This conflict is putting the party in a challenging position as members attempt to navigate the legislative process and address crucial border security issues, as CNN reported.

The tension arises from Trump's efforts to lobby against the bipartisan border compromise being negotiated in the Senate, complicating the GOP's legislative strategy.

Trump has been exerting his influence over Republican senators both privately and publicly, urging them to oppose the emerging bipartisan border deal.

His primary motivation appears to be the desire to maintain the issue of border security as a central theme for his potential campaign, while also preventing President Biden from achieving a legislative victory in this area. This move by Trump is seen as a strategic play to bolster his political standing, but it has resulted in considerable discord within the Republican ranks in the Senate.

McConnell caught in Trump's shadow over border deal

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged the difficult position in which Trump's opposition has placed the party. McConnell, who supports the border-Ukraine package, is now faced with the challenge of advancing legislation that is at odds with the former president's stance. This situation underscores the significant influence Trump continues to wield within the Republican Party, even after leaving office.

Many Republicans are hesitant to openly challenge Trump, considering his likely status in the upcoming presidential election.

This reluctance has led to confusion and a lack of clear direction within the Senate GOP regarding the path forward. Despite these challenges, McConnell remains committed to reaching a compromise and has expressed his firm support for continuing negotiations on the border deal.

Frustration among Republicans over Trump's interference

Some Republican senators have expressed their frustration with Trump's efforts to derail the deal, primarily for campaign-related purposes rather than addressing an important national issue. This sentiment reflects a growing concern among certain members of the GOP about the potential negative impact of prioritizing political strategy over legislative solutions. An anonymous GOP senator lamented that the deal would have received overwhelming support from Republicans if not for Trump's opposition.

Sen. Mitt Romney commented on the situation, highlighting the significance of the border issue for Trump and criticizing his approach. "I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is ... appalling," said Romney.

Uncertain future for bipartisan border deal

The current status of the border deal negotiations remains unclear. McConnell has stated that efforts are ongoing to reach a satisfactory agreement, but he also acknowledged the possibility of having to consider alternative plans.

This uncertainty has led to frustration among some senators, who feel that the party's leadership might prematurely abandon the negotiations without fully consulting the broader conference.

Notably, this is not the first time Trump has influenced the outcome of bipartisan immigration discussions. In the past, he has either killed or attempted to kill similar deals, prompting some senators to call for a more pragmatic approach that prioritizes solving the issues at hand over political maneuvering.

McConnell, senators navigating a complex path

Looking ahead, the GOP faces a critical decision: whether to proceed with the border deal against Trump's wishes or to seek an alternative approach. This decision is complicated by the need to balance party unity with the desire to address significant legislative issues effectively.

In a statement reflecting the ongoing efforts to reach a compromise, McConnell said, "We’re still working. Trying to get an outcome." His words underscore the challenging nature of the situation and the commitment of some party leaders to finding a solution.

Sen. John Thune, expressing a similar sentiment, noted the possibility of a "Plan B" but emphasized the ongoing attempts to reach an agreement that would satisfy a majority of Republicans. "If we can’t get there, then we’ll go to plan B. But I think for now at least, there are still attempts being made to try and reach a conclusion that would satisfy a lot of Republicans," Thune stated.

As the GOP continues to navigate this complex political landscape, the outcome of these negotiations will likely have significant implications for the party's legislative agenda and its overall cohesion in the face of Trump's enduring influence.