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Trump moves to quash hopes of Ukraine-border deal in Congress

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo river, known as Rio Grande in the United States, into the U.S. through Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico, on Jan. 2, 2024. U.S. border police have in recent weeks reported approximately 10,000 crossings by migrants every day, many of them fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.    (Herika Martinez/AFP/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS)
By Erik Wasson Bloomberg News

Former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump is moving to quash any hopes of a bipartisan compromise on immigration and Ukraine as the Senate prepares for votes as early as next week on a possible deal.

Fresh off his win in the Iowa caucuses this week, Trump took to Truth Social to insist that any deal contain every conservative demand for border and immigration changes, an aggressive position meant to force House GOP leaders into rejecting any Senate compromise.

“I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION,” Trump wrote. “Also, I have no doubt that our wonderful Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, will only make a deal that is PERFECT ON THE BORDER.”

The border issue is one where President Joe Biden faces high disapproval compared with Trump, and striking a deal could help Biden politically. An ABC News/Ipsos poll out this week found just 18% of adults approved of Biden’s handling of border issues.

Johnson said he has consulted Trump on the border deal but after a meeting with Biden on Wednesday, the House speaker hinted he was open to compromise.

That openness worries hardliners in the GOP conference like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who threatened to bring a motion to oust Johnson if he cuts a deal. She would have to be joined by at least three Republican colleagues and all Democrats to succeed.

Republicans Eager

Trump’s comments come as Senate Republican leaders are increasingly eager reach an agreement with Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a proponent of aiding Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion, told reporters a deal can be sealed within days if the Senate forces the issue by scheduling preliminary votes next week.

McConnell and his deputies argue that now is the time to make changes to U.S. asylum and deportation laws because there is no way Democrats will cut any such deal with Trump were he to be elected president. Even if Republicans were in control of the House and Senate, Democrats would be able to use Senate rules to block any Trump-authored immigration bill, they argue.

A group of bipartisan Senate negotiators say they were close to a deal, but Republicans want to ensure that Biden and future presidents will be limited in their ability to allow migrants otherwise set for deportation to remain in the country. They fear that any tightening of the asylum-process criteria would be meaningless if Biden uses such parole to waive deportation on a large-scale basis.