FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, lashed out at Republican leadership over the botched bipartisan border deal that Republicans are planning to shoot down Wednesday afternoon.
“The bill is flawed from top to bottom,” Paul told Fox News Digital in an interview. “No conservatives in the Senate will vote for this. No conservatives in the House are going to vote for it. The House speaker says it’s dead on arrival. It really shows incredibly bad strategy on Senate Republican leadership to bring this up at all.”
Paul made his comments after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday afternoon he thinks it’s time for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to step down, arguing the longstanding leader should have walked away from supporting the border bill negotiations with Democrats and Biden administration officials.
“The Republicans who vote for this are going to be pilloried by Republicans at home,” Paul said. “So, there’s really no good logic in doing it this way. And I think it was because basically Sen. McConnell, Sen. [Chuck] Schumer and President Biden … they want to send more of our money to Ukraine. This was always sort of a sideshow for them in order to get what they really want, which is sending more of our money overseas.”
Paul argued “the current law is sufficient” and that Biden has the authority to shut down illegal crossings.
“When President Trump was president, his administration was able to control the border without any changes in the law,” he said.
“Republicans have to realize when they vote as a minority to drag us into this, the majority of the caucus doesn’t want it,” Paul continued. “It really adds to discord and strife and really makes many of us wonder about our leadership just dragging us into Democrat deals that are all the Democrats and a handful of Republicans. Just doesn’t seem like a very unifying way to run our caucus.”
Paul, a hawkish figure who opposes additional Ukraine aid, criticized the ongoing talks on the border with little focus on oversight to foreign funds in the bill.
“I think we’ll eventually get back to that issue,” he asserted.
The U.S. has sent more than $100 billion to Ukraine since the war against Russia began in February 2022.
Initially, when the White House urged Congress to pass the national security supplemental package in October, Republicans sought to separate Ukraine and Israel aid. While members were united in supporting Israel, they were divided on continued aid for Ukraine.
However, the focus later shifted to the border, with the administration initially allocating $14 billion toward expediting asylum processing, which outraged Republicans who wanted a complete overhaul to the system.
“But I think the overall deal is in all likelihood, dead,” Paul added.
The bill aims to end “catch and release,” permitting migrants and families to enter under federal supervision for 90 days to complete asylum interviews. Passing migrants will receive work permits, while failing ones are repatriated. It mandates detention for those entering outside official ports, with funding for up to 77 repatriation flights daily.
At least 22 GOP senators and three Democrats oppose the bipartisan bill. McConnell’s outlook on the bill’s passage, once checkered with optimism, appeared grim by Tuesday afternoon as mounting opposition from his conference bubbled over.
“I think, in the end, even though the product is approved by the border council that adores President Trump, most of our members feel that we’re not going to be able to make a law here,” said McConnell, a strong supporter of aid to Ukraine.
“And if we’re not going to be able to make a law, they’re reluctant to go forward. There are other parts of this supplemental that’re extremely important as well — Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan. We still, in my view, tackle the rest of it because it’s important.
“Not that the border isn’t important, but we can’t get an outcome. So, that’s where I think we ought to head up to Sen. Schumer to decide how to repackage this if, in fact, we don’t hold onto it.”
The proposed legislation, released Sunday evening after months of negotiations, will total just over $118 billion, with 50,000 new visas. Biden’s original request amounted to around $106 billion.
The emergency border proposal is aimed at gaining control of an overrun asylum system that has been overwhelmed by historic numbers of migrants illegally crossing the border. The bill proposes an overhaul to the system with tougher and quicker enforcement measures.
At least 1.5 million illegal immigrants identified as “gotaways” crossed the border under the Biden administration, according to a 2023 report.
The bill’s emergency provisions, which Biden would have the authority to suspend on an emergency basis, would go into effect when there is an average of 5,000 or more daily encounters with illegal immigrants over a seven-day period or, alternatively, when a combined total of 8,500 or more aliens are encountered on any single calendar day.
However, the bill states that if the president “finds that it is in the national interest to temporarily suspend the border emergency authority, the President may direct the Secretary to suspend use of the border emergency authority on an emergency basis.”
Essentially, the “border emergency” triggered at 5,000 crossings per day within a week can be overturned by President Biden.
The bill would allot $20 billion to immigration enforcement, including the hiring of thousands of new officers to evaluate asylum claims, as well as hundreds of Border Patrol agents. Some of those taxpayer funds would go to bailing out shelters and services in cities across the U.S. that are struggling to keep up with the influx of migrants in recent months.
Migrants who seek asylum, which provides protection for people facing persecution in their home countries, would face a tougher and faster process for having their claim evaluated. The standard in initial interviews, known as credible fear screenings, would be raised, and many would receive those interviews within days of arriving at the border. Final decisions on their asylum claims would happen within months, rather than the often years-long wait that happens now.
On Tuesday, Biden said the border package “doesn’t address everything” he would have liked, such as creating a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already living in the U.S. However, he called it the “toughest, fairest law that has ever been proposed relative to the border.”
“I’m calling on Congress to pass this bill, get it to my desk immediately,” Biden said. “But if the bill fails … every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.”
During negotiations, Trump urged senators on his platform, Truth Social, to reject a deal “unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people.”