GOP senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee want Senate leaders to conduct a full legislative process for the supplemental package, which includes border policy changes agreed upon by negotiators, instead of rushing the bill to a floor vote this week.
In a letter to Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., committee ranking member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., urged leaders to allow the upper chamber the normal allotted time to sift through the 370-page bill text.
“Any legislation impacting border security has significant consequences for our nation’s security, immigration system, and taxpayers,” the senators wrote in the letter Wednesday. “It is imperative that Members of this body are afforded the opportunity to thoroughly review and consider any proposed changes.”
“Rushing a bill to the Senate floor without allowing adequate time for the committees of jurisdiction to deliberate on the legislation and conduct hearings with individuals possessing relevant expertise would be a significant oversight,” the letter read.
The senators suggested allowing key stakeholders, including officials the Secretary of Homeland Security, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and others, to publicly testify so they “can hear directly from the Biden administration on how they would implement the changes” of the proposed border provisions. Senators said a hearing would “enhance transparency” and further ensure senators are “well-informed” about potential consequences, including financial implications and long-term effects, before it is brought to a vote.
Last week, Schumer said a vote on the supplemental bill could come as soon as Wednesday. More than a handful of GOP senators have already indicated they would vote against the bill.
Senate negotiators on Sunday released the text of the much-anticipated border deal that lawmakers have been hashing out with White House officials since December, incorporating significant reforms, including a crackdown on asylum and parole.
In the Biden administration’s original supplemental request last October, officials sought over $100 billion in funding, including $14 billion for the border. However, Republicans demanded limits on migrant releases into the interior, including the use of parole, and negotiators have been attempting to find a compromise.
Sunday’s proposed legislation will total just over $118 billion, with 50,000 new visas.
The border proposal, which took months to negotiate, is aimed at gaining control of an asylum system that has been overwhelmed by historic numbers of migrants coming to the border. The bill proposes an overhaul to the system with tougher and quicker enforcement measures.
If the number of illegal border crossings reaches above 5,000 daily for a five-day average, an expulsion authority would automatically kick in so that migrants are sent back to Mexico without an opportunity to make an asylum claim. If the number reaches 4,000, presidential administrations would have the option of using the expulsion authority.