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Republicans and Democrats are moving in opposite directions on immigration

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

House Republicans are regrouping after a failed vote to impeach the Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, for the crisis at the southern border.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

With a border security deal on the verge of imploding on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats are moving in completely opposite directions on immigration ahead of a key procedural vote, which is scheduled for today. President Joe Biden slammed Republicans who plan to sink the bipartisan legislation, even though the White House agreed to the measures they wanted.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: 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, not for anyone else.

INSKEEP: NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales joins us this morning. Claudia, good morning.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, I'm trying to figure this out. Republicans demanded some border security measures. Democrats finally said yes to some of them, anyway.

GRISALES: Right.

INSKEEP: And then Republicans said, actually, no. How did that happen?

GRISALES: Yes. They spent a lot of months on negotiating this $118 billion bipartisan deal. And yes, Republicans initially said no to foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel without this border deal. McConnell and other Republicans warned that this is probably the best deal they could get, even comparing it to a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.

But now McConnell is singing a different tune with House Republicans starting this momentum for senators - Republican senators - to vote against this plan. So he told reporters all this after applauding all the negotiations on it.

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MITCH MCCONNELL: But it looks to me and to most of our members as if we have no real chance here to make a law.

INSKEEP: And I guess we should underline why it would seem to be that they would have no real chance to make it law. Why would that be?

GRISALES: Because there just was not enough support there because Senate Republicans had turned on the plan, too.

INSKEEP: And that would have to do with Donald Trump.

GRISALES: Exactly. So that really started pressure, especially for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who really started this momentum for House Republicans to say, we're not even going to take up this plan if it were even to pass in the Senate.

INSKEEP: Wasn't there also an effort yesterday to just strip out the immigration part, even strip out the Ukraine part and just pass military aid to Israel in the House of Representatives?

GRISALES: Yes. Speaker Mike Johnson was unable to pass this $17.6 billion in military aid to Israel. There was just too much opposition there, even on both sides. And Biden also had threatened to veto the bill.

INSKEEP: OK. How does election year politics, the fact that it's 2024 and there are presidential primaries underway - how does that play into this?

GRISALES: That plays a huge role. For example, if you were to, say, fix the border with this legislation, Republicans will lose that argument as a big talking point on the campaign trail. So there's definitely a political calculation here for the GOP, who want to preserve their best shot for presenting the best argument for the election. And especially when you look at the presidential race with Trump as the presumed GOP presidential nominee, he was adamantly opposed to this. Quickly, House Republicans, Speaker Johnson followed suit. And now we're seeing Senate Republicans fall in line as well.

INSKEEP: So how did the House fail to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, which was supposed to be part of their campaign push?

GRISALES: Well, there were three Republicans who joined Democrats to vote against the measure, so too many for this narrow GOP majority. They could still revisit this effort later. But it's another reminder how far apart both these parties remain.

INSKEEP: OK, just the facts. NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales, thanks, as always.

GRISALES: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.