February 6, 2024
MAGA Republicans appear to have killed the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, after senators and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spent four months writing the border security piece of the bill that the House MAGA Republicans themselves demanded. House Republicans insisted that border security be added to the supplemental national security bill that provided additional assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and provided humanitarian aid to Gaza.
It turns out that they were apparently hoping to kill support for Ukraine, which is widely popular both in Congress and with voters across the country, and figured that Democrats would never agree to their demands for a border measure. Thus they could kill aid to Ukraine and hammer Democrats for leaving the border in crisis.
But Democrats see aid to Ukraine as so fundamental to our national security that they were willing to give up even the path to citizenship for the Dreamers, those brought to the U.S. as children, a requirement on which they have previously stood firm, in order to get Republicans to pass the national security measure. The final compromise, released by the Senate negotiators late Sunday night, had much of what Republicans have wanted to impose on the border for a long time.
But Trump, who wants to use the confusion on the border as a campaign issue, pressed the Republicans to reject the measure. While the Senate will vote tomorrow on whether to take it up, enough Republicans have now come out against it that it appears to have little hope of advancing. As the headline of Carl Hulse’s analysis in the New York Times puts it: “On the Border, Republicans Set a Trap, Then Fell Into It.”
In a speech at the White House today, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass the bill. He thanked the negotiators who have worked so hard on it, and blamed Trump for shooting it down. Trump has been working the phones, calling Republican lawmakers to “threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal,” Biden said. “And it looks like they’re caving.”
Biden pointed out that “everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the Border Patrol [Union] to the…United States Chamber of Commerce support[s] this bill,” and that the Border Patrol Union endorsed Trump in 2020.
“[I]f the bill fails,” Biden told Republicans, “I want to be absolutely clear about something: The American people are going to know why it failed. 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.”
“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. It’s time for Republicans in the Congress to show a little courage, to show a little spine to make it clear to the American people that you work for them and not for anyone else.”
Then, this afternoon, House leadership called a vote on the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, who they insist is not enforcing the laws that should protect the border. Just to be clear, good leadership would never call such an important vote unless they were absolutely certain it had the votes to pass.
You know where this is going, right?
It did not have the votes to pass. Three Republicans joined the Democrats to make up a majority of 216, while the Republicans could muster only 214. Republicans say they will bring the measure up again later.
Then House leadership decided to bring to the House floor a standalone bill providing $17.6 billion to Israel, without aid for Ukraine or Taiwan, or humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. That, too, failed, by a vote of 250 to 180.
Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News posted on social media: “I’ve seen a lot of embarrassing days for different House Republican leadership teams. This one is pretty high on the list. They lost a vote to impeach Mayorkas. And then they lost a vote to send $17.6 billion to Israel. They didn't need to vote on the Israel bill today. They knew it would fail. They chose to.”
News broke today that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel is planning to leave her position under pressure from Trump, who wants a more fervent loyalist in the job—despite the unquestioned loyalty that had McDaniel participating in Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election—and is unhappy with the RNC’s dismal finances. The RNC’s chief of staff under McDaniel, Mike Reed, will also be stepping down.
Meanwhile, former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson released a video today confirming that he is in Moscow to interview Russian president Vladimir Putin. He says he plans to tell people the “truth” of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Carlson says that no U.S. journalist has tried to interview Putin since the conflict began, a comment that drew the astonishment of CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who pointed out that real journalists (unlike Carlson, whose lawyers have successfully defended him in court from slander charges by saying he should not be expected to tell the truth) have been trying to get an interview with Putin since the war began but he will only talk to propaganda outlets.
Putin has, of course, imprisoned American journalists Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal and Alsu Kurmasheva of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Carlson said Elon Musk is permitting him to post the interview on X, formerly Twitter.
And finally today, last but very much not least, the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviewing the question of whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election released their decision.
He is not immune.
The panel wrote: “We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power—the recognition and implementation of election results. Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count….
“We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter….
“For the purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution….”
Trump’s lawyers say they will appeal the decision.