Conservatives are eager for Republicans to flex their new House majority against President Biden’s radical agenda, but there are already signs that Republicans in the Senate are ready to give up their party’s leverage.
With president Biden’s southern border crisis raging unabated, Texas senator John Cornyn (TX) led a “bi-partisan” group of senators on a trip to El Paso Monday to pump a potential amnesty deal.
Senate Republicans caving already?
Together, the senators talked vaguely about working together on “solutions,” with a couple, including former Democrat Krysten Sinema, of Arizona, floating amnesty for so-called “dreamers” as part of the answer.
Sinema, who left the Dems last year to become an independent, pointed to a bill she pushed with Republican Senator Thom Tillis (NC) late last year that included a pathway to citizenship as a template for future negotiations.
Sinema was joined by Democrats Chris Coons (DE), Mark Kelly (AZ) and Chris Murphy (CT) and Republicans Cornyn, Tillis, James Lankford (OK), and Jerry Moran (KS).
A headline in Breitbart labeled the group “Gang of Eight 2.0.” referring to the group of Democrats and moderate Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and the late John McCain of Arizona, who proposed amnesty as part of a compromise on immigration during the Obama administration.
Sinema’s proposal may find little resistance from Cornyn, Tillis, Lankford, and Moran, who are all longtime advocates of amnesty for “dreamers.” Cornyn is on record calling for a “permanent solution.”
Still, Cornyn’s Republicans talked tough after Monday’s photo-op, with Lankford saying it’s time to “get serious” about securing the border.
Tying border security to amnesty is a longtime fixation of Republican moderates like Cornyn, who apparently believe that rewarding illegal immigration with citizenship will somehow disincentivize border crossers.
Rather than reward Democrats with new voters, Cornyn might start by holding Biden’s feet to the fire. But that doesn’t seem likely.
Cornyn said he was “very appreciative” of Biden’s belated visit to El Paso on Sunday, which has been widely dismissed as a stroll through a Potemkin village after immigrants were swept off the street prior to Biden’s arrival.
Biden has refused to accept any responsibility for the crisis, which he blames on a “broken system” he says he inherited. Echoing Biden’s rhetoric, Cornyn said it’s time for Congress to act on Biden’s demands for legislative reform to ensure that immigration is “safe, orderly, humane, and legal.”
“We keep hearing from President Biden and others that we need Congress to step up and provide some answers, and I’m happy that we are,” Cornyn said.
With Senate Republicans like Cornyn accepting Biden’s “broken system” premise, any hope of blocking amnesty may lie with House Republicans, who have taken a more offensive posture towards Biden than their Senate counterparts.