Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is blaming Republican senators for the creation and immediate collapse of the pro-migration bill that he secretly drafted with Democrat leaders.
“The reason we’ve been talking about the border is because they [GOP Senators] wanted to,” he told Politico, adding, “The reason we ended up where we are is the members decided, since it was never going to become law, they didn’t want to deal with it … I don’t know who is at fault here, in terms of trying to cast public blame.”
In reality, McConnell sent Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) to develop a migration plan that would help McConnell win more funding for the war against Russia in eastern Ukraine. This Ukraine-centered policy left Lankford without political support — or even expertise — in the negotiating room with a united bloc of Democrat immigration lawyers and investor-backed political operatives.
The top Democrat on the negotiation panel, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), told NBC that McConnell was central to the negotiations: “He didn’t just bless the deal. He wrote the deal … [His team] were in the room every single day.”
The resulting bill was so pro-migration and deceptively marketed that it collapsed as soon as the text was released to GOP voters and populist-minded senators, such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT):
The border deal is even worse than we thought.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) February 5, 2024
No one who cares about our border security should support it. It is a betrayal of the American people.
Yet Politico echoed and endorsed the Democrat narrative that the deal “amounted to the most conservative immigration bill backed by a Democratic president in a generation.” In reality, the bill offered a fake border shutdown trigger while vastly increasing President Joe Biden’s wage-cutting migrant inflow via enlarged parole and asylum side doors.
The Politico article also labels the opponents of the corporate giveaway “far right” despite polls showing that a majority of Americans oppose Biden’s chaotic inflow of job-seeking migrants.
The article also ignores the possibility that the fiasco will eventually help McConnell and the Senate GOP caucus by keeping Biden’s unpopular migration record at the center of the 2024 campaign. In 2014, McConnell’s caucus won five seats after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty through the Senate.
The article’s decision to downplay the policy consequences and negative polls is a commonplace example of how journalists in D.C.’s bubble align themselves with D.C. insiders. That alignment prompts them to portray political battles as morality tales between good insiders vs. bad outsiders. In this case, Politico’s insiders portrayed Trump as the villainous intruder:
Despite that pragmatism, McConnell’s job is only getting harder …
That is in part because of Donald Trump, whom McConnell barely acknowledges after criticizing his role in the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021. The former president played a leading role in killing the border deal and has called consistently for McConnell’s ouster. And at this time next year, Trump could well be back in the White House.
Democrats are also trying to reframe the national disagreement over the establishment’s nation-changing economic policy of extraction migration as a sordid battle between noble Beltway politicians and Trump, the chaotic outsider.
“If the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something,” Biden told reporters at the White House on February 6:
The American people are going to know why it fails. I’ll be taking this issue to the country … 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.
Nobody had more optimism than me that Republicans would do the right thing and vote for our bipartisan bill to fix the border and fund Ukraine.— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 6, 2024
But today we found out – Republicans chose Trump. They want border chaos because it helps his campaign.
That’s all that matters. pic.twitter.com/v7R4VmyC99
The fiasco leaves McConnell in a weakened position as he nears his eighty-second birthday and as his three top deputies jockey to win the top spot once GOP senators have to vote for a new leader. The collapse of the migration plan “wasn’t good for him,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) told Politico. “I’m not gonna say he’s the total cause of it, but we got to have a better plan.”