President Joe Biden is sending a clear message to Democratic negotiators on Capitol Hill that he is open to striking a compromise with Republicans on border security in order to get talks on funding for Ukraine back on track.
During his impassioned speech in the White House’s Roosevelt Room on Wednesday, Biden said he felt Republicans haven’t been willing to make a deal, though some have since expressed optimism about the direction of negotiations.
“I am willing to make significant compromises on the border. We need to fix the broken border system, it is broken. And thus far, I’ve gotten no response,” he said as he made a fresh appeal to lawmakers, adding that failure to reach a compromise would serve as a “gift” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But, he added, “This has to be a negotiation.”
“Republicans think they can get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise,” the president said. “That’s not the answer. … And now they’re willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process.”
If struck, a deal could end a stalemate that the president said imperils the future of Ukraine’s sovereignty and democracy around the world, while also upheaving US immigration policy, which has served as an intractable issue in Congress for decades.
Acknowledging the country’s immigration system is “broken,” Biden made direct overtures toward Republicans who want policy changes along the border, saying he is willing to do “significantly more” than he has already proposed. He also signaled an openness to changing policy – but was vague on what exact policy changes he would consider.
Some of the changes that the White House has expressed openness to are reminiscent of the Trump-era that previously received fierce pushback from advocate, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.
Sources tell CNN the changes the White House telegraphed to the Hill included, for example, raising the credible fear standard for migrants seeking asylum, which could have the effect of making fewer migrants eligible for asylum. They also were open to casting a wider net of undocumented immigrants subject to the fast-track deportation procedure known as “expedited removal,” which the Trump administration tried to do and would give greater latitude in quickly deporting undocumented immigrants.
One of Biden’s close Democratic allies said it could be time for the president to become personally involved in negotiations if current talks fail, with Sen. Chris Coons saying president should bring negotiators together.
“I think we need one more weekend of passing paper back and forth between those core group of engaged senators,” the Delaware Democrat told CNN. “President Biden was a senator himself for 36 years. I think he respects and understands the importance of letting the Senate work if it can, and if it really can’t, then pulling everyone.”
But, he warned, “we are running out of time.”
“No one has shown they are mor