One of the architects of a controversial border security bill is revealing he received a political threat over the legislation.
During a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) noted some Republicans and conservative commentators have raised policy differences with the bill.
However, he added, “Some of them have been very clear with me, they have political differences with the bill. They say, ‘It’s the wrong time to solve the problem,’ or ‘Let the presidential election solve this problem.'”
He went on:
“In fact, I had a popular commentator four weeks ago that I talked to that told me flat out — before they knew any of the contents of the bill… nothing was out at that point — that told me flat out, ‘If you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you. Because I do not want you to solve this during a presidential election.’ By the way, they have been faithful to their promise.”
Watch the video below:
“I had a popular commentator four weeks ago that I talked to that told me … 'If you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you.'”— The Recount (@therecount) February 7, 2024
— Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) condemns pushback to Senate border bill pic.twitter.com/bRzoNTgyGi
Lankford’s comments refer to a doomed border security bill he helped negotiate for over three months.
Republicans have turned on the bill as they expressed their belief it does not contain strong enough measures to address the border crisis.
The Wall Street Journal notes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had supported the negotiations over the deal. However, on Monday, McConnell said he would recommend senators vote against a procedural motion to advance the bill.
The legislation has caused something of a divide among conservatives. Writing in The Washington Post, conservative commentator Marc Thiessen focused on a portion of the bill that states the president “may” shut down the border if the 7-day average of migrants crossing the border exceeds 4,000 per day, and it ays the president “shall” if the number exceeds 5,000.
“But the legislation explicitly states that this authority shall not be activated ‘during the first calendar year after the effective date, for more than 270 calendar days; during the second calendar year … for more than 225 days; and during the third calendar year, for more than 180 calendar days,’” Thiessen said. “In other words, by ‘authorizing’ powers the president already has with new conditions, the legislation is not really ‘authorizing’ anything — it is simply placing restrictions on the president’s existing authority.”
“So, this bill is not better than nothing; it is worse than nothing. In the name of forcing the hand of a sitting president who is not serious about securing the border, it would tie the hands of a future president who is serious about securing the border,” he added.
By contrast, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued the bill “is the most restrictive migrant legislation in decades” and is “almost entirely a border security bill, and its provisions include long-time GOP priorities that the party’s restrictionists could never have passed only a few months ago.”
Still, on Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked the bill.