Republicans are ‘caving’ — Biden blames Trump as border deal falters

“Frankly, they owe it to the American people to show some spine and do what they know to be right,” he added.

Once again pleading with Congress to pass the bill, the president touted the deal’s strict border and immigration policies, including the emergency authority it would grant him to “shut down” the border when it becomes overwhelmed. He described it as the “toughest” and “fairest” law that has ever been proposed, and urged both parties to move beyond “toxic politics.”

Biden also called the congressional package vital to the U.S. national security interests, providing much-needed funding to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the nation’s southern border.

The president’s remarks, added to his schedule late Tuesday morning, appeared to be a last-ditch effort from the White House to implore senators to back the $118 billion bill. His public pressure comes as negotiators scramble to sell the deal to Republicans and progressives before a procedural vote in the Senate initially scheduled for Wednesday.

But perhaps more importantly for Biden, given the shaky nature of the deal’s standing, the remarks reflect a strategic shift for the White House. Biden’s strong endorsement of the legislation — and his repeated urging for Congress to pass it — will add to the White House’s arsenal as they look to flip the narrative on the president’s handling of the immigration crisis in 2024.

For weeks, the White House has zeroed in on attacking House Republicans and Speaker Mike Johnson, as well as former President Donald Trump, for threatening to derail a deal that would implement one of the strictest border and immigration laws in modern history.

Biden’s message on Tuesday aligned with the strategy the White House and Biden campaign will deploy in the coming months, as they blast Republicans for putting politics above bipartisan policymaking. The president’s speech offered an early preview of how he will tackle the issue on the campaign trail.

“But if the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something. The American people are going to know why it failed,” Biden said. “I’ll be taking this issue to the country, and the voters are going to know that just at the moment we were going to secure the border and fund these other programs, Trump and the MAGA Republicans said no because they’re afraid of Donald Trump.”

Record migration levels at the southern border have long remained a political liability for Biden, while serving as a favorite attack line for Trump and other Republicans. White House officials believe they’ve been handed an array of fodder from Republicans to flip the script.

If the deal fails as expected, Biden aides aim to convince voters that Republicans stood in the way of solving the border issue for political reasons, while portraying Biden as a dealmaker who was eager to address the crisis. It’s not yet clear if the messaging strategy, paired with any unilateral moves the president makes on the border, will be enough to change the long-held view — demonstrated in public polling — that Republicans are more trusted on handling immigration.

“Look, I understand the former president is desperately trying to stop this bill because he’s not interested in solving the border problem. He wants a political issue to run against me on,” Biden said. “The American people want a solution that puts an end to the empty political rhetoric, which has failed to do anything for so long. We have to get the resources to the border to get the job done.”

“So Republicans have to decide,” he continued, “who do they serve? Donald Trump? Or the American people?”

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