Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.), the third-ranking member of the Senate GOP leadership, says he will oppose the sweeping border security deal negotiated by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) over the past three months, striking a blow to Senate Republican unity.
“The proposed legislation does not meet most Americans’ standard of securing our border now. It doesn’t force the Biden administration to end its abuse of current law,” Barrasso said in a statement.
“Joe Biden will never enforce any new law and refuses to use the tools he already has today to end this crisis. I cannot vote for this bill. Americans will turn to the upcoming election to end the border crisis,” he said.
The announcement is a setback to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), who have played leading roles in promoting the bill.
While McConnell and Thune want to give Senate GOP colleagues more time to review the bill and likely won’t support proceeding with the bill this week, they are expected to support the legislation itself.
Barrasso is the second member of the elected Senate GOP leadership to state his opposition to the deal, which proponents say would raise the asylum standard for people entering the country and cut the number of illegal migrants paroled into the nation’s interior in half.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines (Mont.) announced his opposition to the bill in a post on the social media platform X on Monday.
“I can’t support a bill that doesn’t secure the border, provides taxpayer funded lawyers to illegal immigrants and gives billions to radical open borders groups. I’m a no,” Daines wrote.
Lankford, the lead GOP negotiator, argued on Monday evening after a Senate GOP conference meeting on the issue that while the bill includes some concessions to Democrats, it takes major steps toward solving the border crisis.
“You’ve got to be able to actually have a moment that you can actually solve problems,” he said, noting that Republicans were not able to change asylum law when they controlled the White House and both branches of Congress.
“My focus is what can we do to actually solve the border issue because I do hear from House members saying, ‘We do need to actually resolve these problems,’” he said.
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