Several House Democrats are weighing trading a border deal in exchange for helping Republican Speaker Mike Johnson keep his gavel as tensions rise over how to address the record surge in illegal immigration amid a contentious election year, Politico reported Friday.
The Senate is expected to unveil a bipartisan border deal soon tied with funding for Ukraine, while Johnson is receiving pressure from former President Donald Trump not to give Democrats a win on the topic ahead of November. As some House conservatives are threatening to oust the new speaker over the prolonged spending fight, several House Democrats have floated opposing such a motion to vacate in exchange for Johnson bringing the eventual Senate deal to the floor, according to Politico.
“Our job is not to save Johnson, but I think it would be a mighty pity, if he did the right thing … for us not to support him,” House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson of Mississippi told Politico. “Up to this point, he’s been a fairly honest broker.”
Two other Democratic members shared similar sentiment with Politico — House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith of Washington and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, who represents a border district.
“He’s got to decide if he’s going to do what’s right — or he’s going to do what’s politically expedient to just keep himself there for another — er, I don’t know how long,” Gonzalez told Politico.
Trump made a social media post on Truth Social Wednesday in opposition to such a package, arguing that a border deal should only be made if “we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people.” The former president added that he doesn’t believe Johnson would make such a deal unless it’s “PERFECT ON THE BORDER.”
All Democrats voted with eight House Republicans in October to oust former Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he advanced a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government, which Johnson also did on Thursday. The speaker caught backlash from several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, including GOP Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona, who voted to remove McCarthy.
“People really underestimate the degree to which people really didn’t like Kevin McCarthy,” Smith told Politico. “The argument I’ve made to Mike is: You’re going to make an enormous amount of progress on the border however this comes out — and you’ve still got your political issue because you think there’s more that needs to be done.”
Illegal immigration has surged under the Biden administration, with over 2.2 million and 2 million encounters in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, respectively, according to Customs and Border Protection. Fiscal year 2024 has already seen a record number of illegal immigration with over 300,000 encounters in December, Fox News reported, citing internal government sources.
Johnson, Thompson, Smith and Gonzalez did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
Mary Lou Masters on January 19, 2024