Republicans have spent the last two years promising to prioritize the border crisis, and after taking control of the House they hoped to pass immigration legislation within the first two weeks. This would tally an easy win and deliver on their campaign promise, but so far they have not been able to get a bill through to the Senate. A three-page bill from Texas Rep. Chip Roy has run into fierce opposition from moderates which has sent Republicans back the drawing board and emphasized the deep rift within the party regarding the issue of immigration. Of course, the potential bill is purely be for messaging as it would be dead upon arrival in the Democrat controlled Senate, but none the less, its failure underscores the problems with having only a razor-thin majority in the House.
According to CNN:
For his part, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has defended the House GOP’s inaction on border security thus far, arguing it’s still early in their new majority and reiterating that Republicans are committed to addressing the issue. The California Republican made his first trip to the southern border last week as speaker, while Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are slated to hold a field hearing Thursday afternoon in Yuma, Arizona, on what they describe as “the Biden border crisis.”
“Committees have just now been constituted, not all of them have even been constituted. So I don’t think it’s really an opportunity to say you haven’t acted,” McCarthy said during a news conference in the Tucson Sector, near a stretch of border wall. “This isn’t my first trip. This is my sixth trip. … So no, Republicans have been taking action. We’ve got a lot of ideas inside Congress.”
But the GOP’s early internal disagreement over the issue of border security has inflamed tensions between the party’s moderates and conservatives, even as Republicans are united in their belief that the record level of migrant encounters along the border amounts to a crisis.
In a sign of how tense things have become, a staffer for Roy recently blasted out an op-ed to other congressional offices that was critical of GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, a moderate who represents a Texas border district and has been an outspoken opponent of Roy’s border bill, according to a screenshot of the email shared with CNN. The op-ed, written by a conservative advocacy group, dubbed Gonzales a “RINO” and accused him of “helping Joe Biden undermine our border.” One senior GOP source said the email was “just pouring gasoline on the fire.”
The Roy bill, dubbed the “Border Safety and Security Act,” has stalled while having over 60 co-sponsors. The bill “would allow the Homeland Security secretary to turn away migrants at the border if it was deemed necessary to maintain operational control of the border.
With this bill dead, where do Republicans go? It seems they will need to settle for a plan B and fight their battle of messaging on the border crisis in a different way. Perhaps the GOP’s best opportunity to address the border will be in upcoming spending fights, since House Republicans will actually have leverage now that they are in power.
“In the absence of legislative momentum, House Republicans have continued to move ahead with their messaging efforts to call attention to problems at the southern border,” says CNN.
Field hearings in Yuma last week, hosted by Jim Jordan, has already marked the third trip to the border from House Republicans. “In a sign of the intense focus on trips, House Judiciary Republicans have requested $262,400 for travel this Congress, compared to the $7,986 the committee spent on travel in 2022 in the last Congress when the House was under Democratic control,” a Democratic committee source tells CNN.
In D.C., both the House Oversight and Judiciary committees have held hearings on the border and have requested to investigate the Department of Homeland Security even further.
It is clear that with the stall of immigration legislation in the House, Republicans will have to become creative with how they push reform and attention to the crisis on the border.