As negotiations over a U.S.-Mexico border security deal have all but collapsed in Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., remained committed to opposing the deal on Tuesday, but denied he and his fellow Republicans were scuttling it to help former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign.

What You Need To Know

  • As negotiations over a U.S.-Mexico border security deal have all but collapsed in Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., remained committed to opposing the deal on Tuesday and denied he and his fellow Republicans were scuttling it to help former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign

  • Trump has said Democrats want the bipartisan deal because they “need it politically” ahead of November, calling it a “gift”

  • Biden has implored Congress to give him additional resources and the authority to shut down the border 

  • Already in 2024, at least four migrants have died — including two children —  in the Rio Grande after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Military Department to prevent Border Patrol agents from entering the park near where they drowned

“From what we've seen, clearly, what's been suggested is in this bill is not enough to secure the border,” Johnson said at a press conference, speaking of the bipartisan deal being negotiated in the Senate. “And we have to insist, we have a responsibility of duty the American people, to insist that the border catastrophe [hasn’t] ended and just trying to whitewash that or do something for political purposes — that it appears that may be — is not going to cut it and that's a nonstarter in the House.”

Johnson went on to call the idea he and other Republicans are killing the deal to help Trump “absurd.” 

“I have talked to President Trump about this issue at length and, and he understands that, he understands that we have a responsibility to do here,” he said. “Of course, President Trump wants to secure the country.”

Trump has said Democrats want the deal because they “need it politically,” calling it a “gift” to his political enemies, and swore at a Nevada rally on Saturday that he wouldn’t support the deal under any circumstances. 

“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible, open borders betrayal of America,” Trump said. “It’s not going to happen, and I’ll fight it all the way.”

Trump praised Johnson for declaring the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the Republican-controlled House. Sending the bill to the desk of his Democratic rival, President Joe Biden, would put the “border disaster onto the shoulders of the Republicans,” Trump argued on social media on Monday.

“I didn’t need a big, complex Democrat-oriented Border Bill, which will make Republicans look bad,” he added in a separate post on Monday.

The bill — which is intended to be tied to funding for Ukraine and Israel’s war efforts, among other foreign policy priorities — would require the U.S. to shutter the border if roughly 5,000 migrants cross illegally on any given day. Some one-day totals last year exceeded 10,000.

The authority would shut down asylum screenings for those who cross illegally. Migrants could still apply at ports of entry until crossings dipped below 3,750 per day. But these are estimates and the final tally hasn’t been ironed out.

Over 300,000 people crossed the southern border in December, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. While many are able to successfully enter the country and make their way to cities like New York, which have struggled to find housing and provide resources for newly-arrived migrants, others are kept open-air camps run by U.S. Border Patrol that activists say lack food, water, shelter or medical care. 

And the border can be deadly: Over 680 migrants died or disappeared on the U.S. Mexico border in 2022, a U.N. agency said last fall, dubbing it “the world’s deadliest migration land route.” Already in 2024, at least four have died — including two children —  in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Military Department to prevent U.S. Border Patrol agents from entering the park near where they drowned.

Biden has implored Congress to give him additional resources and the authority to shut down the border “when it becomes overwhelmed,” as he said in a statement on Friday. He has called for the deal to include new funding to help process asylum seeker claims within six months, instead of the years that it typically takes.

“I’ve done all I can do. Give me the power,” Biden said as he boarded Marine One outside the White House on Tuesday. “Give me the Border Patrol… give me the judges, give me the people who can stop this and make it work best.”

Johnson insisted on Tuesday that Biden already has the authority to shutdown the border and that no additional legislation is needed. But the Biden administration has said they do not have the legal authority to do what Republicans claim they can.

“Today, Speaker Johnson claimed he believes action should be taken to secure the border. Yet it is House Republicans who are saying they will block an historic bipartisan border security deal supported by President Biden that will deliver much-needed law enforcement hiring and investments in cutting-edge technology to stop fentanyl trafficking,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement on Tuesday. “President Biden has been fighting to take rapid action to secure our border, even as House Republicans have consistently voted against the record funding this president has delivered year after year for that purpose.”

In lieu of supporting legislation being negotiated in the Senate, Johnson and his fellow Republicans are set to vote on Tuesday night on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — the man the White House tapped to craft the deal with a bipartisan group of senators. It’s the first time in nearly 150 years a Cabinet secretary has been impeached.

Trump’s strong opposition to the bill has considerably swayed Republicans in recent days. His hold on the party is near absolute as he notches double-digit victories in the GOP primary and garnered the endorsements of over 30 of the Senate’s 49 Republicans and more than half of the 219 House GOP members. The all-but-presumptive 2024 Republican nominee has long demanded loyalty from his party members. A Trump loyalist, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, labeled Senate Republicans who support the border deal “traitors to our country” on Tuesday in an interview with the Hill.

And with a slim voting majority in the House due to departures and health issues, even if he supported it, Johnson may not have the votes within his conference to pass whatever deal emerges from the Senate — which is having issues of its own keeping Republicans on board.

“We have only a tiny, as you know, razor thin, actually a one vote majority right now in the House,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “Our majority is small, we only have it in one chamber, but we're trying to use every ounce of leverage that we have to make sure that this issue is addressed.”

In the Senate, Republicans’ top negotiator is one of their most conservative senators, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford. But he appears to have lost some momentum as his fellow Republicans have defected from the deal. His state’s own Republican Party voted to censure him over the weekend for working with Democrats.

“It is interesting. Republicans, four months ago, would not give funding for Ukraine, for Israel and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy, so we actually locked arms together and said, ‘We’re not going to give money for this. We want a change in law,’” Lankford said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And now it’s interesting, a few months later, when we’re finally getting to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding, I actually don’t want a change in law because of presidential election year.’”

In an op-ed for The Hill on Tuesday, Trump ally Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., insisted in one paragraph that opposition to the deal was not motivated by electoral politics. A paragraph later he said the deal, which he blamed on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would help Democrats in the fall.

“The Democrats, and some Republicans who claim that President Trump or anyone else wants the border crisis to continue because it’s good politics are trying to find an offramp for their failure,” Scott wrote. “McConnell’s plan to give Biden and Democrats a win that they can campaign on and claim they’re working to solve the border crisis is a joke.”

He also wrote McConnell, Senate GOP’s longtime leader, “has completely lost touch with our voters and the real world.”

Polls in recent months consistently show American increasingly prioritizing immigration as one of their top issues and majorities calling for tougher restrictions at the border. A CBS News/YouGov poll from earlier this month found 68% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, while 65% disapprove of congressional Republicans’ approach to what Johnson dubbed a “catastrophe.”

For his part, Trump has had no problem taking credit for disrupting negotiations and encouraging congressional Republicans to kill the bill.

“I notice a lot of the senators, a lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me,” Trump said in Nevada on Saturday. “I said ‘that’s OK, please blame it on me.’ Please, because they were getting ready to pass a very bad bill. And I’ll tell you what, a bad bill, I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill.”

Spectrum News’ Justin Tasolides and the Associated Press contributed to this report.