Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Biden’s Foreign-Policy Legacy Is Now Intertwined With Border Crisis at Home: President is Eager to Help Ukraine and Figure Out How to Defuse an Immigration Issue Hurting His Re-Election Bid

Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
WSJ: Biden’s Foreign-Policy Legacy Is Now Intertwined With Border Crisis at Home:
President is eager to help Ukraine and figure out how to defuse an immigration issue hurting his re-election bid
The fate of President Biden’s foreign-policy legacy is now tied directly to one of his biggest domestic political liabilities, the border crisis, as lawmakers hurry to reach a deal to funnel aid to Ukraine and rewrite the country’s immigration rules.
Lawmakers were set to continue talks through the weekend after Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democrat-backed $110.5 billion emergency foreign-aid measure that would have sent funding to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific, saying the package needed significant changes to border policies. Republicans have since presented a counteroffer.
The outcome of the talks will have far-reaching real-world consequences. U.S. deliveries of crucial weapons and equipment to Ukraine are hanging in the balance, and waves of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. could face tougher restrictions at the southern border under the pending deal.
For Biden, the political stakes are significant, less than one year before what is expected to be a tightly contested election.
A failure to reach a compromise would undercut what Biden had hoped would be the defining foreign-policy issue of his presidency, weakening the unprecedented unity among U.S. allies who have jointly sent aid to Ukraine for nearly two years. Biden warned this week that a cessation of U.S. aid to Ukraine would clear a path for Russia to invade other countries in Europe, a move that could trigger the direct involvement of U.S. troops in the region.
Photo: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
At the same time, the negotiations offer Washington policy makers one of their only chances to make significant changes to an immigration system that both Republicans and Democrats say is deeply flawed—but which the two parties have been unable to overhaul for three decades. A deal could partially defuse a vexing issue for the president and his party.
But the talks are also politically treacherous for Biden. An agreement that includes changes to asylum laws and other policies risks alienating liberals who have already expressed concern that Biden will surrender too much to the GOP without getting concessions in return. If the talks collapse, the president could open himself up to further criticism from Republicans—and some moderate Democrats—that he isn’t doing enough to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It’s tricky. He’s in a tough spot,” said Matt Duss, executive vice president at the Center for International Policy and a former foreign-policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Reaching a deal with Republicans that includes too many border policy concessions, he said, “would certainly further frustrate the Democratic base. It could be very politically damaging.”
A new Wall Street Journal poll conducted in late November and early December found that 64% of voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of border security. That is the highest disapproval since the Journal began asking the question in March 2022. When broken down by party, roughly 33% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans disapprove.
Biden said this week that he is willing to make “significant compromises” with Republicans on the border in order to secure additional aid for Ukraine, but he and his senior aides have repeatedly declined to publicly say what concessions he would sign off on. --->READ MORE HERE
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