Updated Dec 21, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Johnson urges Biden to unleash executive actions on border security

Photo: Jamie Kelter Davis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is calling on President Biden to take executive action to address securing the southern border, urging him to restart a series of policies embraced by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Johnson told Biden in a letter, first obtained by Axios, that "significant action" on the border "must start with you."

  • Johnson argued Biden should reimplement Trump administration policies such as resuming construction of the border wall and ending the use of parole programs that release people who've crossed the border.
  • He also pushed for Biden to re-up the Remain in Mexico agreement and to expedite “removal so that aliens are screened and immediately removed if they cannot demonstrate asylum eligibility,” in addition to curtailing work authorizations for people in the U.S. on parole.

The intrigue: Senate negotiators were angling to strike a deal before leaving for the holidays, frequently meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in hopes of finding consensus before current Ukraine funding is set to run out at the end of the year.

But lawmakers ultimately left D.C. stating that talks will continue and they remain hopeful they’ll come to an agreement early in 2024.

  • Republicans have been adamant that they will not pass Ukraine funding without substantial border policy changes attached to the measure, citing the uptick in fentanyl coming into the country and human trafficking.
  • “We passed H.R. 2 more than six months ago, but Senate Democrats have refused to act on it. While a bipartisan group of Senators has begun extensive negotiations over the past few weeks to try to find a compromise, they have not yet been able to finalize an agreement,” Johnson wrote.
  • “Statutory reforms designed to restore operational control at our southern border must be enacted, but the crisis at our southern border has deteriorated to such an extent that significant action can wait no longer. It must start now, and it must start with you,” he added.

The big picture: Border policy has long been a difficult issue for parties to reach a consensus on, and a sizable faction of Republicans have pushed back on providing additional resources to Ukraine.

  • That could make passing any package that emerges out of the Senate tricky without harsh pushback from House conservatives.
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