Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) the lead Republican negotiator in border security talks with Democrats and the White House, defended the border deal on Monday amid Republican criticism.
The $118.2 billion legislative package includes $20.23 billion for operational needs and capabilities at the border and to provide resources for the new border policies, according to CNN. It also raises standards for asylum screening and to process claims faster, ends the practice known as “catch and release,” and gives the president the authority to restrict illegal migrant crossings when it reaches a set threshold.
The bill also includes $60 billion to Ukraine and $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel.
Several pro-Trump members of Congress rushed to attack the bill on Sunday after the 370-page legislation was released, likely following orders of Donald Trump who has been urging his allies in Congress to sink the proposal weeks before its text was made public so he can run on the issue in November.
In an interview on Fox & Friends Monday, Lankford was asked to respond to criticism from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) who called the legislation a “Border Capitulation Bill” and said “no self-respecting senator” should agree to vote on the bill.
“It’s interesting that he said he’s already opposed to it,” Lankford said according to a clip posted by Mediaite. “He needs three weeks to be able to read it, but he’s already opposed to it. So again, people have got to be able to read it and go through it themselves. Don’t just go off of Facebook post somewhere what the bill says.”
Lankford also criticized House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) who said the proposal is “dead on arrival” in the House.
“Unfortunate that he would step out and be able to say that right away, before, obviously, he had had a chance to be able to read it as well and to be able to go through it,” Lankford said.
“The key aspect of this, again, is are we, as Republicans, going to have press conferences and complain the border is bad and then intentionally leave it open after the worst month in American history in December?” Lankford added. “Now we’ve got to actually determine, are we going to just complain about things? Are we going to actually…. change as many things as we can if we have the shot?”