GOP rebels target government shutdown fears in latest push for stricter border policies

A growing faction of House GOP hardliners are calling on their leaders to leverage a potential government shutdown to force Democrats in the Senate and White House to pass conservative border policies. 

“You can’t imagine what we’re hearing down here,” Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital while touring the border with a Republican congressional delegation on Wednesday.

“This is madness. And I believe this has gone beyond an invasion. This is now an occupation,” he said. “Let’s either shut down the border, secure the border, or shut down the government.”

Under a short-term extension of last year’s government funding priorities, Congress has until Jan. 19 to pass a spending plan for some federal agencies and until Feb. 2 for the rest. That means House and Senate leaders will have less than 10 days to strike their first deal when Congress is back in session on Jan. 8. 

Several conservatives signaled to Fox News Digital that they’re ready to use that pressure to pass measures they argue will help stymie the worsening border crisis.

MIGRANT ENCOUNTERS AT SOUTHERN BORDER HIT RECORD 302K IN DECEMBER, SOURCES SAY 

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who is also on the border trip, told Fox News Digital, “Congress must use its power of the purse as leverage to force the Biden regime to enforce our laws and restore order at the border.”

“If the Biden administration does not shut the border down, we’ll shut the government down. We control the money,” he said. 

It comes as talks continue between bipartisan Senate negotiators and the White House over how to handle the border crisis. Republican leaders in both chambers have insisted that Democrats give concessions on the border in exchange for GOP support for a $110 billion supplemental aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other causes.

CHIP ROY ON SKIPPING GOP BORDER VISIT: REPUBLICANS NEED TO ‘PUT UP OR SHUT UP’ 

But members on the right of the House GOP conference have dismissed the talks. Some lawmakers said they would oppose Ukraine aid for anything less than passage of H.R.2, the Republican border security bill dubbed a non-starter by Democratic leaders.

Now, they’re poised to throw up roadblocks in the looming government funding fight in addition to Ukraine.

“Forget Ukraine for the moment. The border is the issue. Let’s either shut the border or shut the government. I’m not talking about just not giving money to Ukraine. Shut the government down, because this is an existential crisis,” Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, said.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., told Fox News Digital that voters in his district would support Congress shutting down the government if it forced Democrats to act on the border.

DEMOCRAT SENATOR SOUNDS ALARM ON ‘CRISIS’ AT SOUTHERN BORDER

“Instead of deporting the illegal aliens who are entering our country, the Biden administration is rewarding their criminal behavior by allowing most of them to stay,” Burlison said. “My constituents are with me; either we secure the border and stop the flow of illegal aliens into the country, or we shut down the government.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, wrote a letter to colleagues on Tuesday, which was obtained by Fox News Digital, calling for a shutdown save for funding for operations at the border.

“[U]se of our constitutional authority to withhold funds to force adherence to the law comes with cries of ‘government shutdown’ and concerns we will fail to sustain key priorities such as funding for troops and Border Patrol agents themselves. These claims can be dismissed if we pass legislation to fund those very basic responsibilities… while withholding funding for the vast majority of the federal government,” Roy wrote.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates responded to conservatives’ threats in a statement Wednesday: “Today’s statements are just House Republicans’ latest admission that as President Biden and both parties in the Senate seek common ground to address the needs of the American people, their conference is instead choosing extreme politics that would subject American families to needless pain.”

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., did not endorse or dismiss the shutdown threats when asked during a Wednesday press conference. 

“We have been working in earnest and in good faith with the Senate and the White House virtually every day through the holiday trying to come to an agreement. Negotiations are still ongoing. It’s [dragged] on way too long. But the sooner we get that agreement, the sooner we’ll be able to get the appropriations bills done,” he said.

“Let me tell you what our top two priorities are right now. In summary, we want to get the border closed and secure first, and we want to make sure that we reduce non-defense discretionary spending.”

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