ICYMI: Sen. Johnson Joins Senate Conservatives in Demanding Transparency in Senate Border Negotiations

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, joined Senate conservatives in a press conference led by U.S. Sen Rick Scott (R-Fla.), outlining their expectations for the ongoing negotiations on border security legislation.

Sen. Johnson criticized the lack of transparency and pointed out the many unanswered questions surrounding the border deal.

“There’s just so many aspects of this bill, as we understand it, that make no sense whatsoever,” Sen. Johnson said. “We’re asking the questions, we’re not getting those answers. You [the press] ought to be asking those questions, maybe you can get the answers.”

Watch the senator’s full remarks here. 

On the unanswered questions surrounding the border deal

“As this is being described to us, and again, we've not seen the text, you'll hear that is a pretty common theme here. But our staffs have been briefed by leadership staff. The phrase that keeps going through my mind is Rube Goldberg. This doesn't have to be complex. This should actually be pretty simple. But again, because we haven't seen text, really, all I have are questions. These are questions I have that haven't been answered. And I would suggest these are questions you ought to be asking Senate leadership about this bill. The first one: so they've set these thresholds at 4,000 and 5,000. You know, Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, I think in 2016, after he'd already left office, said that ‘a thousand people a day,’ when he was in office, he said that was a bad day.’ Once he left office, he said a thousand people a day overwhelmed the system.’ So if a thousand people a day overwhelmed the system, and that is true, that's still true today, why wouldn't we set the threshold at a thousand rather than 4,000 or 5,000?...

“When Senator Lankford was asked, ‘what is the goal of this?’ It wasn't – the answer wasn't to secure the border. It was to give the next president the tools he would need or she would need to secure the border. Well, that wasn't our expectation. I'm sure that's not the public's expectation. That's important because part of my problem with the 4,000 threshold that's discretionary, and then the 5,000 that’s mandatory in shutting down the border –  my first question on that is, how are they going to do that? Do you have the personnel to actually shut down the border? That hasn't been answered. But the 4,000 discretionary level, is that going to hinder the next president? Will the left who wants an open border, that caused this problem, will they take the next president to court if he wants to shut down the border at a thousand? That question hasn't been answered. The other question is, we get indications, the negotiators said this is going to cost a lot of money. And we have indications that it's going to cost a lot of money because, first of all, we're going to have to hire a lot more Border Patrol agents, I guess, to process up to 4,000 or 5,000 people a day. I mean, isn't that stupid? I mean, shouldn't we shut down the border and keep it under a thousand so it doesn't overwhelm the current system as opposed to stand up a system that can accept 4,000 or 5,000 people a day? We're told that we’re going to fund sanctuary cities. I mean, isn't that stupid? I mean, take better care of illegal immigrants, and that's just going to cause more to come.”


On how the border crisis started under President Obama and exploded again under President Biden

“So, again, there's just so many aspects of this bill, as we understand it, that make no sense whatsoever. We're asking the questions. We're not getting the answers. You [the press] ought to be asking those questions. Maybe you can get the answers. But again, what this chart describes is, first of all, cause and effect. Going back to the Obama administration, which started all this by the way, how he abused prosecutorial discretion. That should be done on a case-by-case basis, but he gave that out to hundreds of thousands of people under DACA. That sparked all of this. We've been dealing with it ever since. And now the Biden administration is abusing parole, which is also supposed to be done on a case-by-case basis. Up until this administration, about 5,000 awards of parole a year. Now we're granting it to hundreds of thousands of people. That abuse has to stop. But as Senators Lee and Scott both said, Trump under existing law, secured the border. That represents about 570 people a day. Biden, when he got into office, exploded the border, opened it up, and if we normalize 4,000 to 5,000, that's what the chart would look like. That's completely unacceptable.”


On the lack of negotiating skills from Senate leadership

“The lack of negotiating skills is profound from leadership…. again, a Rube Goldberg solution that's not a solution, because as many people have said, they caused this problem. Biden and Democrats in Congress are the root cause. They want an open border. It's a real problem for James Lankford having to deal with that, and it's even more difficult when he's getting his marching orders in terms of the negotiation, not from the conference, in terms of what the conference red lines are, but what the red line of one individual is who doesn't consult with the conference but just makes the decision for us.”


Sens. Johnson and Scott were joined by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.).