From “GOP senators seethe as Trump blows up delicate immigration compromise” by Manu Raju, Melanie Zanona, Lauren Fox and Ted Barrett at CNN Politics:
Senior Senate Republicans are furious that Donald Trump may have killed an emerging bipartisan deal over the southern border, depriving them of a key legislative achievement on a pressing national priority and offering a preview of what’s to come with Trump as their likely presidential nominee.
In recent weeks, Trump has been lobbying Republicans both in private conversations and in public statements on social media to oppose the border compromise being delicately hashed out in the Senate, according to GOP sources familiar with the conversations – in part because he wants to campaign on the issue this November and doesn’t want President Joe Biden to score a victory in an area where he is politically vulnerable.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged in a private meeting on Wednesday that Trump’s animosity toward the yet-to-be-released border deal puts Republicans in a serious bind as they try to move forward on the already complex issue. For weeks, Republicans have been warning that Trump’s opposition could blow up the bipartisan proposal, but the admission from McConnell was particularly striking, given he has been a chief advocate for a border-Ukraine package.
Now, Republicans on Capitol Hill are grappling with the reality that most in the GOP are loathe to do anything that is seen as potentially undermining the former president. And the prospects of a deal being scuttled before it has even been finalized has sparked tensions and confusion in the Senate GOP as they try to figure out if, and how, to proceed – even as McConnell made clear during party lunches Thursday that he remains firmly behind the effort to strike a deal, according to attendees.
“I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is … really appalling,” said GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump.
He added, “But the reality is that, that we have a crisis at the border, the American people are suffering as a result of what’s happening at the border. And someone running for president not to try and get the problem solved. as opposed to saying, ‘hey, save that problem. Don’t solve it. Let me take credit for solving it later.’”
The CNN Politics writers note that, “Underscoring just how damaging Trump’s comments and campaign to kill the border deal have been in the Senate, one GOP senator on condition of background told CNN that without Trump, this deal would have had overwhelming support within the conference….“This proposal would have had almost unanimous Republican support if it weren’t for Donald Trump,” the Republican senator said.
One of the few Republican senators who favor the border security deal, “Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has made no secret of her frustration with Trump over the years, said members need to remember how big this moment is for the border and for Ukraine and put their own politics aside.
“I’m not giving up. This is not about Trump and this is not about me. This is about our country. This is about democracy around the world. This is about security for our own country and so let’s keep pushing to get this border deal,” she said. “Let’s stand by the commitments that we have made for our friends and our allies so that our word actually means something.”