Back-to-back legislative defeats highlight US Republican chaos

Much of the chaos has been blamed on Trump, who looks almost certain to be the party’s nominee in November despite losing the presidency to Joe Biden in 2020 and being embroiled in criminal charges.

Senate Republicans demanded border security as a condition for supporting pro-Western Ukraine as it battles a full-scale invasion by Russia launched in 2022.

But Trump is running for a return to the White House on a platform centred around accusing Biden of failing to resolve the border issue.

A bipartisan compromise – months in the making and combining Ukraine and Israel aid with some of the toughest immigration curbs in decades – collapsed within days of its weekend release, as Trump warned lawmakers to reject it.

Biden said from the White House that the deal was falling apart because Trump was seeking to “weaponise” the border crisis. He urged lawmakers in the “Grand Old Party” (GOP, as the Republicans are known) to “show some spine”.

Johnson denied that Tuesday’s defeats were a reflection on his leadership, preferring to blame increasing polarization across Congress and in the country as a whole.

“Look, the nation is divided. We lament that, right? The differences, the chasm between the two parties right now, is wider than it’s ever been,” he said.

But the embarrassment left Republicans questioning the direction of the party under Johnson, who has a razor-thin majority and can usually afford to lose only three or four votes, depending on who is present.

“Former (Democratic) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi … never lost a vote in her eight years wielding the gavel,” said Gabe Fleisher, author of the Wake Up To Politics newsletter.

“Johnson, who came into the high office with the least legislative experience of any speaker in 140 years, just lost two in a single night. Consider it yet another norm obliterated by his dysfunctional House GOP majority.”

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