J.D. Vance wants a border wall battle with Biden
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — J.D. Vance thinks it’s time for Republicans to have another fight over a southern border wall, this time with President Joe Biden.
If the GOP seizes full control of Congress in the midterms, the Ohio Republican said the party should use its majorities to extract border wall money from the Biden administration as a condition of funding portions of the government. Vance said that advancing border wall cash is one of his top two priorities should he defeat Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in November, and he urged the GOP to join him in fighting for an expanded barrier between the United States and Mexico.
“Republicans, we need to have a fight over the border wall. And we need to be willing to say to Joe Biden: ‘You don’t get another dime for your priorities unless you do your job and enforce and secure the Southern border,’” Vance told supporters here in his hometown.
Vance’s comments show how a GOP House and Senate would wage new, if familiar, fiscal battles with the Democratic president over the next two years. As he seeks to beat back Ryan in their close race to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Vance is making border security a key pillar of his campaign, alongside stopping inflation and increasing domestic energy production.
Republicans need to pick up just one Democratic seat to take the Senate majority, provided they hold on to GOP territory in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina. And if they do, things could get nasty when it comes to funding the government.
If elected, Vance says he would push for $3 billion to secure the barrier and finish portions of the incomplete southern border wall. Asked later Wednesday at an event in Columbus how he would achieve that, Vance replied that “it’s all about leverage.”
“We have to be willing to use the leverage that we will have with congressional majorities to actually force Joe Biden to do some of the core functions of the federal government,” Vance said. “One of the things we have to be willing to do as Republicans is force the conversation on border security. It’s killing way too many people.”
Izzi Levy, a spokesperson for Ryan, said that “if J.D. Vance cares so much about immigration, why didn’t he use his ‘leverage’ as an investor to stop the dozens of companies he invested in that tried to hire foreign workers?”
Vance has said he’s never encouraged those companies to use H1-B visas.
The last border wall fight didn’t go well for the GOP. Then-President Donald Trump refused to sign a late 2018 stopgap spending bill because it lacked $5 billion in funding. The government then partially shut down for 35 days as Democrats refused to yield to Trump, who declined to back down for weeks.
Eventually Trump declared a national emergency on the border and the government reopened.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who was campaigning with Vance on Wednesday, said the GOP should model its use of leverage after 2015, when a Republican-controlled Congress successfully reversed an oil export ban during the Obama administration.
He agreed that Republicans would have more sway over priorities like border security and said “Joe Biden is going to have to negotiate and give more to the Congress if” the GOP takes complete charge on the Hill. But Cotton did not seem to want a repeat of 2018.
“I don’t want to see a government shutdown. I don’t know anyone who does. And we didn’t have one in ‘15,” Cotton said. “It’s just a natural fact of our system of separated powers that when the opposition party controls Congress, the president has to grant more in terms of negotiations.”
Currently, the government is funded through Dec. 16. Whether Democrats and Republicans can cut a broader deal to fund it through Sept. 30, 2023, depends on the election results next month.
If there’s a total GOP takeover, conservatives will want a shorter stopgap bill to allow their new majorities more input, while Republican leaders may prefer to cut a deal with Democrats to clear the decks of thorny issues before taking power.
Other Republicans are also eyeing the debt limit as a point of leverage over Democrats next year, with some hoping to get changes to entitlement programs as a condition of lifting it. But Vance seems less interested in altering Social Security and said the best way to reverse the budget deficit is to create more jobs.
“People overstate the problem with the Social Security Trust Fund, in particular. I think that so long as we don’t do really ridiculous things on spending, Social Security should be stable,” Vance said. “We’ve lost so many manufacturing jobs to China and to other countries … to fix the long term budgetary problem, you’ve got to reverse that trend.”
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