Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) has hit the ground running in 2024, leading a delegation of 60 House members to the US-Mexico border, spotlighting illegal immigration as the GOP cudgel of choice in a hotly contested election year. The two-day junket began Jan. 3 in Eagle Pass, TX, where the tiny enclave reported 71,000 migrant encounters in December alone. The end-of-the-year rush across the border has frustrated local citizens and elected officials who again demand action from the federal government — which is responsible for the current crisis and willfully ignoring its own mess.
Johnson has thrown some punches in the immigration fight — pecking at the Biden administration, tying the border debacle to funding for Ukraine and Israel, writing letters demanding action, and threatening to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
President Joe Biden has fired back, accusing Republicans of running from the fight they began in the first place. “Actions speak louder than words,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates sniffed. “House Republicans’ anti-border security record is defined by attempting to cut Customs and Border Protection personnel, opposing President Biden’s record-breaking border security funding, and refusing to take up the President’s supplemental funding request.”
Johnson made good use of X during the Christmas break, blasting the absent leader of the Free World who was frying on the beach in St. Croix: “President Biden needs to stop vacationing and take immediate steps to stop the flow of illegal immigration into our country.”
Aid to Ukraine Up for Discussion
As Republicans swing the battle-ax to force the Biden administration to enact what leftists call “severe” and “inhumane” legislation against immigrants, Democrats complain about the folks on the other side of the aisle leaving the Swamp for the Rio Grande when bipartisan discussions need to be had. But the tour of the border is demonstrating GOP resolution to block further funding – not only for the war in Ukraine but also the US government – until the flood of humanity down south stops.
“No more money for this bureaucracy of his government until you’ve brought this border under control,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ). “Shut the border down or shut the government down.” The GOP intraparty struggles have finally ceased, and a common cause is gluing the Humpty-Dumpty party back together again. The visit is strategic: just two weeks before the first deadline for passing the federal budget.
The cohesive GOP is taking a hardline approach. Just weeks ago, Senate Republicans blocked a national security spending bill of $110.5 million, which would have included an earmarked cache to stuff into Ukraine’s depleted war chest.
If that isn’t tough enough, a looming impeachment hearing in the next few weeks to rake Mayorkas over the coals about his “dereliction of duty” will likely distract from the early presidential primaries.
The Border Polls
The near-daily polls of the pulse of Americans are telling Democrats they need to stop ignoring the problem of chaos at the US-Mexico border. And that’s the idea behind the second day of the Eagle Pass tour. Pew Research found that only 9% of adults are “very confident” in the president’s ability to make “wise decisions about immigration policy.”
Johnson’s brand of leadership seems to be encouraging unity among his colleagues during the visit – but will it result in any real action on the border?