After a long wait, the text of the bipartisan Senate bill for Ukraine and border funding was finally released on Sunday night. The massive piece of legislation clocks in at 370 pages and, in addition to the border policy changes previously reported on here, sends an additional $60 billion to Ukraine, tightens asylum standards, prohibits removal of unaccompanied minors, authorizes $1.4 billion in FEMA funding for resources for migrants settling in the US and gives President Biden the authority to overturn any emergency authorization at the border. The House GOP’s verdict is in: Speaker Johnson asserted that the legislation is “dead on arrival” in his chamber.
“I’ve seen enough. This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created,” Johnson tweeted. He added in a follow-up statement with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, “House Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill because it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration.”
Senator James Lankford has accused his critics of either not understanding or failing to read his bill, while other supporters claim it’s better than nothing. One major sticking point has been a clause that states there will be a mandatory emergency authorization when a daily average of 5,000 illegal encounters occur across a seven-day period or 8,500 illegal encounters occur in a single day. Lankford points out that there were only a few days in the past few months where border crossings fell below 5,000 per day. However, the legislation seemingly does not count unaccompanied minors, plus the emergency authorization can be suspended after one week of slightly lower crossings, can only last for three years, and can be suspended by the president.
It’s not just the House Republicans, who passed their own border security bill, HR-2, last year, that are out on Lankford’s deal. Senator Tom Cotton tweeted a thread outlining his issues with the legislation and expressing his intention to vote against it. And according to reporting from the Daily Caller’s Henry Rodgers, a staffer for Senator Mike Lee “blew up the GOP conference comms meeting and stormed out” over his objections to the bill. The rest of the conference was supposedly split between applause and laughter at the staffer’s behavior.
On our radar
PALMETTO VICTORY President Joe Biden easily won the Democratic Party’s primary in South Carolina, capturing 96 percent of the results. The DNC recently changed its primary schedule to make South Carolina the first state to vote, meaning last month’s New Hampshire contest did not confer any delegates to candidates.
BLINKEN YOU’LL MISS IT Secretary of state Antony Blinken is back in the Middle East to encourage Hamas to accept Israel’s proposed temporary ceasefire and the release of all hostages. This is Blinken’s fifth trip to the region since October 7, 2023.
TESTING, TESTING Dartmouth University will again require applicants to submit SAT scores, a policy they suspended during the Covid pandemic. Dartmouth officials said the latest research suggests the standardized exams are a key indicator of whether students will succeed in college.
Ronna being run out?
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s days may be numbered, as President Donald Trump said during an interview with Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, “I think [McDaniel] did great when she ran Michigan for me. I think she did OK initially in the RNC. I would say right now there’ll probably be some changes made.”
“Trump was also pressed on the party’s finances following campaign disclosures released this week that showed the RNC had just $8 million in the bank and $1 million in debt,” reports the AP. Trump responded, “So I have a lot of money. People are not looking at the RNC. They want changes.”
Polling indicates that Republican voters do, in fact, want changes. The Hill reported in December 2023 on a poll that found “roughly 73 percent of Republican voters said the party should elect someone new to lead the RNC at the party’s meetings later this month.”
McDaniel, as The Spectator’s Amber Duke reported in December 2023, “was tapped to become RNC chairwoman in 2017 by then-president-elect Donald Trump… [The pair] quickly became something of a Republican power couple.”
After “historically bad losses in the 2018 midterms and the turnover of the White House in 2020,” however, the goodwill McDaniel earned “began to evaporate,” and it has since all but dried up after the GOP’s “red wave” turned out to be a red ripple and tens of millions of RNC dollars went to pay Trump’s legal fees.
Who’s contending to replace Ronna as RNC chair? According to the Hill, her biggest challenger is Trump attorney and national RNC committeewoman from California Harmeet Dhillon.
Mace in the face
When you’re in a hole, sometimes it’s best to stop digging. In the aftermath of a scathing report from the Daily Beast about Representative Nancy Mace’s office having completely turned over in just a few months, her newest communications director has taken to attacking Mace alumni on Twitter.
Gabrielle Lipsky, one of Mace’s newest staffers, spent her purported lunch break and most of the afternoon attacking former Mace staffers for their litany of criticisms of their former boss. The latest salvo against Mace comes as her former chief of staff filed to run against her in the Republican primary this year — a rare move from someone’s former top aide.
“BREAKING: Entitled Former Staffers, with Inflated Self-Regard, Embark on Revenge Tour Against Member Who No Longer Needs Them Give me a break,” Lipsky – an alum of Congressman George Santos’s office – tweeted. But that was hardly the end. Lipsky went back and forth repeatedly with Natalie Johnson, who worked as Mace’s comms director in an earlier life before decamping to Wyoming to work as a ski instructor.
Johnson wrote that Lipsky’s time as a former Mace staffer “is coming, sweetie,” to which Lipsky responded that “considering you’re a ski instructor, maybe comms was never your thing to begin with, sweetie.” Johnson clapped back by posting a screenshot of Lipsky’s personal website, which is replete with typos.
“There is undoutably [sic] a need for PR, espeically [sic] when it comes to crisis & issues management,” Lipsky wrote on her website. Cockburn would be “piste” if that was him. Isn’t it remarkable how quickly things go downhill?
On her site, Lipsky has a separate post, called “Dude, where’s my crisis?” After hopping from Santos to Mace, it seems she’ll have her fair share. Mace has previously been under fire for using Mondays, an unauthorized software system, to conduct official House business and faces a potentially uphill battle to return to DC next year.