House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to lead a group of fellow Republican lawmakers to the southern border in Texas on Monday, amid debate over the Biden administration’s decision to end a Trump-era pandemic restriction on the US-Mexico border.
McCarthy’s office said in a press release Saturday morning that the California Republican will be joined in Eagle Pass, Texas, by nine lawmakers, including two other members of House GOP leadership – Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer.
Others expected to make the trip include Reps. Tony Gonzales, Randy Weber, Michael Guest and Chip Roy, all of Texas; Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee and Blake Moore of Utah. Greene is coming off an unprecedented hearing in Atlanta on Friday in which she testified under oath for three hours in a case that focused on whether she is constitutionally barred from holding office because of her role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.
Monday’s trip will be McCarthy’s second to the border this Congress, the first being a trip to El Paso, Texas, in March 2021.
The Biden administration is set to repeal next month the measure known as Title 42, which allows border authorities to turn migrants back to Mexico or their home countries because of the public health crisis caused by Covid-19. It was first invoked by then-President Donald Trump to criticism by immigrant advocates and public health experts and then initially kept in place by the Biden administration.
“House Republicans stand with our brave Border Patrol agents on the front lines of this crisis, and we demand that the Biden administration reverse their decision to end Title 42 and fully enforce the immigration and border security laws of our nation,” McCarthy’s office said Saturday.
GOP lawmakers running for reelection this fall are using the repeal of Title 42 as a talking point to attack Democrats on immigration.
Several vulnerable Democrats have joined Republicans in slamming the decision to roll back the border measure next month, arguing that President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas do not have enough time to establish an adequate plan to deal with the expected surge of migrants expected on the US-Mexico border once Title 42 is rescinded.
Mayorkas told CNN this week his department is actively preparing for the potential increase in migrants, saying, “I think we have to be very mindful of the fact that we are addressing enemies, and those enemies are the cartels and the smugglers, and I will not provide our plans to them.”
US Customs and Border Protection had 221,303 encounters at the US-Mexico border in March, which marked yet another jump in arrests along the southern border. CBP has already apprehended more than 1 million people this fiscal year, which began on October 1. That includes some repeat crossers.
McCarthy himself is facing criticism after new audio recordings revealed contradictory statements he made about former President Donald Trump. In the audio clips, the California Republican is heard telling other GOP leaders in the days following the January 6 insurrection that he planned to advise Trump to resign, among other things.
McCarthy broke his silence Friday for the first time since the recordings leaked and defended his comments to reporters, saying he had just been walking through potential scenarios about Trump’s fate after the insurrection and hadn’t been advocating any of them.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.