Mike Johnson Confronted on Border Bill: ‘Is Trump Calling the Shots?’

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, told NBC News’ Meet the Press host Kristen Welker on Sunday that former President Donald Trump is “not calling the shots” after being asked about opposing a Senate bipartisan border deal.

The Context: Republicans in Congress have been setting off the alarm on the security of the U.S.-Mexico border for years, recently arguing that the surge in illegal migrant crossings is a crisis. In recent weeks, both GOP and Democratic senators have been working together on new legislation that will change America’s immigration policies. However, Johnson said that the border deal is “dead on arrival” in a letter he wrote on January 26 to his GOP colleagues.

What We Know: Welker grilled Johnson about his stance on the border deal and asked if the House leader was actually the one in charge.

“You have an opportunity to do something right now about the situation at the border, which you’ve been calling for new legislation on the border since you first took office,” Welker said. “But, let me ask you about Donald Trump. He said any Republican who votes for this deal should be ashamed of themselves. You said you speak to him frequently and that you’ve discussed this deal with him ‘at length.’ Is Donald Trump calling the shots here, Mr. Speaker?”

Johnson responded: “Of course not. He’s not calling the shots. I am calling the shots for the House. That’s our responsibility. And I have been saying this far longer than President Trump has. I’ve been saying what the requirements are to fix the problem.”

Newsweek reached out to Johnson’s office and Trump’s campaign via email for comment.

House Speaker Mike Johnson visits “Mornings With Maria” with anchor Maria Bartiromo at Fox Business Network Studios on February 02, 2024, in New York City. Johnson told NBC’s Meet the Press host Kristen Welker on…

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Views: Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has urged Republicans not to accept anything less than a “perfect” border deal before the general election in November, sparking questions about whether some Republicans are working to prevent President Joe Biden from scoring a victory by signing the border bill into law.

Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, late last month, “We need a Strong, Powerful, and essentially ‘PERFECT’ Border and, unless we get that, we are better off not making a Deal.”

Senator James Lankford , an Oklahoma Republican who has been leading the effort on the bipartisan border deal, slammed Republicans in Congress who want to oppose the deal while appearing on Fox News Sunday last week.

“It’s interesting, Republicans four months ago would not give funding for Ukraine, Israel, and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy. So we actually locked arms together and said, we’re not going to give you money for this, we want a change in law,” he told host Shannon Bream. “And now it’s interesting, a few months later, when we’re finally getting to the end, they’re like, ‘oh, just kidding, I actually don’t want a change in law because of the presidential election year.'”

What’s Next? Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and key negotiator on the border deal, told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union last week, “We do have a bipartisan deal. We’re finishing the text right now.”

He added: “This bill could be ready to be on the floor of the United States Senate next week. But it won’t be if Republicans decide that they want to keep this issue unsettled for political purposes.”

The bill has yet to reach the Senate floor, but if it gets approved by the Senate, it will go to the House for a vote.

Update 2/4/24, 1:02 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.

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