Republicans’ Two Very Different Approaches To Border ‘Crises,’ And To Trump’s Role In Them

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) meets with Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill on October 1, 2020 in ... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) meets with Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill on October 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined a small group of other Senate Republicans who are irritated at Donald Trump for spiking their immigration bill and criticized the former President’s approach to legislating — which is to say, not legislating on issues that Trump may want to use to whack President Biden with in the general election.

“Here’s what I worry about. If we don’t try to do something when we have the moment to do something, all of those swing voters in swing states for whom the border is the number one priority have every right to look at us and go: ‘You blew your opportunity. We were ready to give you a shot, and you blew it,’” Cramer told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“I don’t see that coming back as a reward to us,” Cramer continued. “If we don’t try, then shame on us.”

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and James Lankford (R-OK) have had similar reactions in recent days to Trump’s undisguised calls for his party to drop the bipartisan bill that Senate Republicans have been crafting with Democrats to address the influx of migrants at the border. Trump has described the legislation as a “gift” to Democrats during a presidential election year and has made it clear he wants to take the “blame” for tanking the bill just so he has enough things to criticize Biden on this fall. The frustration among those Republican senators who are actually working on the bill is palpable, but only a few have spoken out against Trump’s power grab as he makes it clear that having a crisis at the border, real or manufactured, is good for stoking fear and turning out Republicans in an election year.

Congress failing to act also bolsters the charade that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is running in Texas as he directs state law enforcement to seize authority of policing the international border from federal law enforcement, creating a standoff in at least one Texas border town and, also, a slow-rolling crisis of federalism. The lack of congressional response gives Abbott et al. more room to make legal arguments about a supposed “invasion” at the southern border, necessitating, he claims, an aggressive response from Texas of the sort an earlier, less conservative Supreme Court had found unconstitutional. It also gives House Republicans room to freak out about a coming conflict.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has been pressuring Abbott and Texas officials to defy the Supreme Court decision — which simply allowed border patrol to cut through Texas-installed razor wire so its agents can access the border, sidestepping larger issues — since the decision first came down. His rhetoric, performative on some level, has only gotten more unruly in the days since he and his colleagues initially started framing the standoff as some heroic confrontation with a tyrannical government leading to “civil war.”

Roy’s latest remarks to Charlie Kirk, flagged by Popular Information’s Judd Legum, sound eerily familiar to the very Trumpian rhetoric that inspired many Trump supporters to attempt to block the certification of the 2020 election on Jan. 6.

I say this respectfully. I say it with the fear of what I’m saying. I do not want to live in a post-constitutional world, but this Court is pushing our hand, and the Court needs to know that… I want them to feel the pressure, because if they’re political animals, they need to know it. We were out there defending Amy Coney Barrett when her house was being protested, we said that the law should be enforced to protect her. Where is she when the people of Texas need to be protected? Totally M.I.A.

I want to preserve and protect the Republican form of government that our country is built upon, and I want a strong America standing in front of the American flag. But my first duty as an elected official is, yes to the Constitution, but my first duty is to make sure that I’m protecting and following my job to make sure our people are protected and secure and safe. That’s what leaders of a state, of a sovereign entity, have to be concerned about, and so, that’s what we’re up against.

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