Freedom Caucus, Hannity Blast Border Security Deal: ‘That is Insane’

‘Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain…’

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Sean Hannity/PHOTO: Gage Skidmore (CC)

(Emily Kopp, CQ-Roll Call) Fox News host Sean Hannity blasted a preliminary agreement reached by budget negotiators Monday night, which could spell trouble for securing the support of President Donald Trump.

A conference committee comprised of Republicans and Democrats announced late Monday that they had reached “an agreement in principle” on border security spending, including $1.375 billion for physical barriers along the southern border, possibly averting another government shutdown days before appropriations run dry.

Hannity broke into coverage of Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas, as news of the compromise was breaking.

“Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain — look at this crowd, look at the country,” he said over pictures of the crowd at Trump’s rally.

Hannity decried a Democratic priority — a 16,500 cap on the number of beds in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.

“Well, that is insane. Because 16,501, what if it turned out to be a murderer, a rapist, part of a drug cartel?” Hannity said.

The criticism by Hannity and other prominent conservative media figures was influential on Trump’s decision in December to renege on a budget deal and trigger a government shutdown.

A cap on beds would rein in the deportations of immigrants with deep ties to the U.S. and without a criminal record, Democratic aides also say. The cap would limit ICE from expanding capacity without prior authorization from Congress. Beds numbering 16,500 aligns with the agency’s peak capacity under the Obama administration, aides also say.

“If the Republicans and the White House are saying they need barriers, wall, whatever you want to call it and that is an absolute objective, and we’re saying we want some other things,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, said last week. “Like anything else, it’s a tradeoff.”

Leaders in the conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., also signaled their disapproval of the tentative deal.

“While the President was giving a great speech in El Paso, Congress was putting together a bad deal on immigration,” Jordan tweeted.

Hannity placed blame for the policy on the “radical left” of the Democratic Party.

In fact, the left flank of the party has made more ambitious demands.

Progressive freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts called on Congress in a Dear Colleague letter earlier this month to halt funding to Homeland Security altogether until the department stopped allocating funds to detain unaccompanied minors without accountability.

But the deal includes $49.4 billion in regular discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security — a $1.7 billion bump over the prior year.

It remains unclear whether the White House will sign off on the deal.

Trump told Fox News before an El Paso rally Monday night that he was mostly unaware of a border spending deal on a Capitol Hill.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said when asked if he would support it, using a line he often turns to when he has not yet made a decision.

(Lindsey McPherson and John T. Bennett contributed to this story.)

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