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Johnson, Biden talk border policy in phone call

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Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and President Biden discussed immigration in a phone call Wednesday, a rare conversation between the two leaders as Congress works through negotiations on border policy. 

Raj Shah, a spokesperson for Johnson, said the Speaker “strongly encouraged the President to use his executive authority to secure the southern border and reiterated the contents of his letter to the President dated December 21, 2023.” 

In that letter, Johnson laid out the record number of encounters at the border in fiscal 2023, which the Speaker blamed on the Biden administration’s policies.  

It also called on Biden to use executive actions to end catch-and-release policy for those detained near the border; tighten the use of parole authority; work with Mexican officials to reinstate the Remain in Mexico program; and restart construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The White House had said in response to Johnson’s letter that there were no unilateral actions Biden could take, and Congress had a responsibility to approve more funding. 


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The White House would not provide additional details about Wednesday’s call, other than to say Biden felt a phone call was the quickest way for the two leaders to connect.

“The president believed a call was the most expedient option today, so that’s why they spoke on the phone,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Wednesday’s phone call marked just the second publicized conversation between Biden and Johnson since the Louisiana Republican was elected Speaker in late October. The two briefly spoke while Johnson was at the White House for a briefing on national security funding.  

Lawmakers have been working to broker a deal on immigration policy that would unlock aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia. House Republicans have stressed any Ukraine aid deal must include changes to border policy. 

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a lead negotiator, indicated Monday that legislative text of a border deal is unlikely to arrive this week. But he said the group working on the issue made substantial progress over the holidays. 

At the same time, House Republicans are pressing forward with impeachment hearings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, citing his handling of the southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security has dismissed the hearings as a political stunt, and some experts have argued there are no legal grounds for impeaching Mayorkas over a policy disagreement. 

Updated at 3:15 p.m.


Source: The Hill

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