Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) speculated Friday that President Biden’s staff is keeping him from taking executive action to stem the flow of migrants on the southern border.
“He knows that he has the authority. We’ve documented it for him. I’ve read to him the law myself — to the president. Read him the provisions of the law and said, ‘Mr. President, please take action,’” Johnson said on Fox Business on Friday morning.
“I don’t think he’s allowed to do it. I’m not sure Joe Biden is actually making these decisions. I think it’s staff around him, and they’re pushing him to hold the — or to keep the border open,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been pressing Biden for weeks to take executive action on border and migration policy — including by reinstating the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy and restarting construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border — and arguing he does not need new authority from Congress to do so.
The push comes as Johnson criticizes a deal being crafted by a bipartisan group of senators pairing an increase in Ukraine aid with border and migration policy changes. While the text is not yet out, Johnson said that if the bill’s contents are as reported in the press, it is “dead on arrival” in the House.
The White House has disputed that Biden can do more through executive authority and accused the Speaker of resisting the Senate border deal and pushing for executive actions — despite previously calling for enactment of other border legislation — for political reasons. Former President Trump has urged Republicans, and Johnson specifically, to reject the Senate border deal.
“Speaker Johnson claimed he believes action should be taken to secure the border. Yet it is House Republicans who are saying they will block an historic bipartisan border security deal supported by President Biden that will deliver much-needed law enforcement hiring and investments in cutting-edge technology to stop fentanyl trafficking,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement earlier this week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that the text of the border-Ukraine deal will be released by Sunday.
Johnson, despite his criticism of the reported details, is not completely shutting down the bill.
“The devil is in the details. We’ll check it out,” Johnson said on Fox Business. “I’m not prejudging anything, but I’ve told them the necessary elements of H.R. 2 are what are required to get control of the border. I’ve been consistent, and that’s our standard. We’ll be looking for that.”
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