Lead Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy is officially “getting worried” about the prospects of a border security agreement coming together, saying Republicans are unwilling to pony up necessary funding for the deal.
“Every day that goes by in which they don’t commit to funding the deal is a day that we’re closer to their decision being made in favor of Donald Trump,” Murphy said, referring to the former president’s public opposition to any agreement passing Congress. “If you want to stand up a new emergency power at the border, you have to fund it — that doesn’t happen for free. If you want to dramatically shorten the asylum processing time, you have to fund it, that doesn’t happen for free.”
He summed up his view of the situation: “You can’t support the text of our deal if you’re not supporting the funding behind it.”
The Connecticut Democrat is still trying to push the compromise forward, arguing it would amount to political malpractice not to vote on the border deal they’ve worked so long on. Meanwhile, some lawmakers are openly floating a separate vote on aid to Ukraine or Israel.
“It’s wild to me that after working for four months to get a breakthrough deal to fix the border Republicans are talking about walking away from it, just because Donald Trump doesn’t like it,” he said. “That’s ridiculous.”
Republicans, for their part, have called on President Joe Biden to use his existing powers to steam the flow of migrants coming into the country illegally.
Lead GOP negotiator Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) sounded more optimistic generally on Thursday, saying he was “doubtful” bill text would be released that day but that he was hopeful it would emerge as quickly as possible.
“I’m trying to get it out as fast as we can possibly get it out,” he said. “There is no one who wants it out faster than me.”
Lankford said he would continue working remotely on the deal this weekend, but he would not be in Washington. When asked if the lack of bill text had become a liability, he said that was true “four weeks ago.” He conceded it would still be a “difficult lift” to pass the legislation once language is finalized.
Asked separately what would happen if the House ultimately didn’t pass the legislation, Lankford said: “I have no idea, my job wasn’t plan B. My job was plan A.”
Daniella Diaz contributed.