Biden says he’ll shut down the border if deal gives him authority

President Joe Biden on Friday urged Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to address the immigration crisis at the nation’s southern border, saying he would shut down the border the day the bill became law.

“What’s been negotiated would — if passed into law — be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” Biden said in a statement. “It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Biden’s Friday evening statement resembles a ramping up in rhetoric for the administration, placing the president philosophically in the camp arguing that the border may hit a point where closure is needed. The White House’s decision to have Biden weigh in also speaks to the delicate nature of the dealmaking, and the urgency facing his administration to take action on the border — particularly during an election year, when Republicans have used the issue to rally their base.

The president is also daring Republicans to reject the deal as it faces a make-or-break moment amid GOP fissures.

It comes after a hectic week on the Hill, as Senate negotiators try to salvage monthslong talks to reach a border deal and unlock aid for Ukraine. The White House has continued to engage in talks and has publicly signaled optimism that a deal can be struck, even as some House Republicans say any bill is dead on arrival in the lower chamber. Donald Trump has also tried to scuttle the talks, adding another layer to complicated negotiations.