A wired fence appears layered over an image of the U.S. flag and Capitol building Three knives also appear in the foreground

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Among right-wing media figures, the knives are out for GOP senators negotiating on immigration

After months of deliberation, the Senate released the full text of its $118 billion spending bill on Sunday, which would provide aid to Ukraine and Israel and strengthen security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Conservative media have continued to rail against Republican supporters of the bill, suggesting that such lawmakers are betraying their party and constituents and that border protections are too weak to be effective.

  • The Senate’s much-awaited border and foreign aid bill has been met with mixed reactions

    • Earlier this week, Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) unveiled the contents of their long-negotiated $118 billion bill that ties border spending to aid for Ukraine and Israel. The bill would allocate approximately $20 billion for border security, $60 billion to aid in Ukraine, $14 billion to aid in Israel, and $10 billion for humanitarian aid. In addition, the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to act if more than a daily average of 5,000 migrants cross the border in a given week or if more than 8,500 migrants cross the border on a single day. [NPR, 2/4/24; The Washington Post, 2/5/24]
    • The new powers granted to the DHS in the bill are a major concession to hard-line Republicans who demanded stricter rules on immigration, and advocates have said the bill would cause more harm than good. Sirine Shebaya of the National Immigration Project wrote that the bill “does not offer any real solutions — it would only exacerbate the same ‘border crisis’ while causing even more human suffering.” Despite the bill’s major concessions, a majority of Republican lawmakers and former President Donald Trump remain opposed to it. [Vox, 2/5/24]
    • Conservative media repeatedly attacked the contents of the bill and the senators negotiating it before it was finalized. Right-wing media figures have repeatedly moved the goalpost in order to slam the Biden administration for poor immigration policy and position Republicans to campaign on the issue ahead of the presidential election. [Media Matters, 1/10/24; 1/11/24; 1/19/24]
  • Conservative media attacked GOP proponents of the negotiated bill for getting “rolled” by Democrats

    • Right-wing radio host and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch called Senate Republicans like Lankford “absolute eunuchs.” Loesch commented, “This legislation is an absolute betrayal to the republic,” and said Democrats “have masterfully played these Republican eunuchs and have made them work for the Democrat side.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 2/5/24]
    • Appearing on Outnumbered, conservative writer and Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway claimed, “What I’m hearing from various people on both the House and the Senate side is extreme anger about Republican participation in this border package.” She then went on to attack Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for working closely with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on a bill “doesn’t actually do anything on the border,” and criticized Lankford, who she claimed “completely gets rolled” in negotiations. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 2/5/24]
    • The following day on Special Report, Hemingway defended House Republicans who voted against the border bill as “at least trying to do something in the House” and lamented “Senate leadership that is very much out of touch with the American voters.” She criticized Senate negotiations for having “completely misread the situation on the border bill,” which she called “an epic failure.” [Fox News, Special Report, 2/6/24]
    • On X (formerly Twitter), conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec wrote: “Senator Lankford should be locked up in Joe Exotic's road zoo in Oklahoma City.” [Twitter/X, 2/6/24]
    • Former Newsmax host and noted plagiarist Benny Johnson argued on his show on YouTube that Republicans who helped negotiate the immigration deal must “be criminally prosecuted.” Earlier in the program, Johnson also condemned Lankford, who he called a “weasel of a man” and a “human toothpick.” [Media Matters, 2/5/24; YouTube, The Benny Show, 2/4/24]
    • On his radio show, Fox host Mark Levin asserted that “anybody who was involved in this must be defeated,” regardless of party. He criticized the bill for containing “loophole after loophole.” Referring to McConnell, Levin said: “The Democrats are laughing. They run circles around that old man in the Senate and his sycophants like this guy Lankford.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 2/5/24]
    • On Greg Kelly Reports, guest host Michael Grimm sharply critiqued the bill as “without a doubt, the most perverse betrayal of their voters that the Senate GOP could ever have come up with.” Grimm went on to praise House Republicans like Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) for trying to bury the bill. [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 2/5/24]
    • Fox News host Sean Hannity chastised Senate Republicans, asking, “Why would you ever negotiate this deal?” He argued the bill is “nothing more than a blatant attempt to shift the blame for the crisis onto Republicans — if they're stupid enough to allow that to happen.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/5/24]
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham accused Republican Senate leadership of betraying their party to “help Biden and hurt Trump, which is a shared goal of 90% of the uniparty.” She also shot down excuses that Lankford and McConnell are unaware of the bill’s details, saying, “They know exactly what they’re doing here.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 2/5/24]
    • Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy emphasized that immigration is “one of Joe Biden’s biggest Achilles’ heels,” asking Republicans, “Why in the world are you going to bail him out?” [Fox News, Special Report, 2/5/24]
    • Appearing on Hannity’s radio program, Fox analyst Greg Jarrett stated, “What happened here is James Lankford got snookered. He got rolled by Chris Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema.” Jarrett continued to attack Lankford’s ability to negotiate, saying he “doesn’t know any better” and is “not equipped to recognize all of the hidden legal machinations that are buried in this goliath 370-page bill.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 2/5/24]
    • Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon urged Republicans to use disagreements over the bill to “make a move” and “get rid of” McConnell. During his radio show War Room, Bannon even suggested that Republicans could “shut down this government” in order to force Biden’s hand on immigration. [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 2/5/24]
    • Andrew Kolvet, a producer of The Charlie Kirk Show filling in for the host, said that the bill “should be dubbed either as the Border Betrayal Act or the Invasion Authorization Act.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 2/5/24]