Republican lawmakers threatened to hold up government funding in exchange for stronger border security during a press conference led by Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-M.D., Wednesday afternoon.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers began talks with White House officials in December, but have been unsuccessful in reaching a deal.
“What you’re going to start witnessing is the House of Representatives doing whatever we can with the tools that are available to us to let the administration know that they are not going to get additional funding for their priorities until we see a secure border,” Rosendale told reporters.
On Jan. 19, funding will expire for several federal departments, including Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
SENATE NOT EXPECTED TO RELEASE TEXT ON BORDER PACKAGE THIS WEEK
On Feb. 2, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Defense Departments will also run out of funding. Congress may have to pass a continuing resolution, known as a CR, to keep agencies temporarily funded until a full budget is agreed upon.
“Don’t tell me this is for want of federal legislation. This is for want of an utter, defiant, lawless refusal to enforce our border,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a member on the upper chamber’s budget committee, told reporters on Wednesday.
“I tell President Biden, secure the border or shut it down. We’re not going to continue to fund your government as if nothing had changed, when we’ve got this crisis unfolding on monumental proportions, whether it’s all of government or just the White House toilet paper budget — I don’t know — but there have to be consequences for him doing this.”
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., also in attendance, said the only way to get border security passed is “to hold up whatever we can, whether it’s Ukraine funding, whatever it is they want, and say we don’t get that funding unless we get a secure border.”
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“Otherwise … we’re going to continue to have an open border,” he said.
Rep. Cory Millis, R-Fl., told reporters, “No American should be told that we must pay to secure the borders of another nation in order to negotiate to secure our own.”
Lankford, alongside other lead negotiators Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., began negotiations with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other Biden officials a week before the upper chamber was scheduled to go on its holiday recess.
Republicans want several measures included in a deal, including more restrictions on parole and reforming how asylum is granted, making the process more stringent for qualifying for asylum. They also want to increase detention beds and the presence of parole agents.
Lawmakers hope to strike a deal that will tie border security measures into the national supplemental funding request that would provide some $60 billion to Ukraine and $14 billion to Israel. But GOP lawmakers have insisted that either the supplemental or government funding have some border security conditions attached to it.
Many hours of private negotiations have transpired since the talks began last month, but no deal has been agreed upon so far. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., spoke with President Biden about the worsening crisis at the southern border on Wednesday, too, urging him to use his “executive authority to secure the southern border,” according to Johnson’s spokesman Raj Shah.
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There were over 302,000 migrant encounters in December, after fiscal year 2023 saw a record 2.4 million encounters overall. A recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement report said the agency removed 142,580 illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2023, up considerably from 72,177 in fiscal year 2022 and 59,011 in fiscal year 2021, but still down from the highs of 267,258 under the Trump administration in fiscal year 2019.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.