A possible solution might be to split off aid to Israel already approved by the House from the supplemental spending bill sought by President Biden.
Republicans in the House majority are contemplating their next moves in negotiations for a border security deal amid growing doubts about a Senate breakthrough.
Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have been deliberating for months over a supplemental spending bill sought by President Joe Biden that pairs U.S. border security with aid to the governments of Israel and Ukraine, along with other spending matters.
Congressional Republicans have been largely supportive of sending new rounds of aid to Israel as the country seeks to eliminate Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
On the other hand, congressional Republicans have been more divided as to whether the United States should continue to assist the Ukrainian government in its war with Russia.
Negotiations have slowed as Republicans have sought to win strict border security measures in exchange for accommodating the Biden administration’s requests for continued funding for Ukraine.
Many Republicans have expressed dismay in recent days at purported details of a tentative border security agreement that Republican Senate negotiators reached with their Democratic counterparts.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Ala.) has signaled that the deal could be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.
With the border security component continuing to delay negotiations for the broader spending package, Rep. Erin Houchin (R-Ind.) told NTD’s “Capitol Report” that Congress could revive an effort to split aid for Israel from the negotiations and move ahead on that lone issue.
Ms. Houchin said the House’s Israel aid supplemental remains available should the Senate choose to move forward on that separate issue.
“In terms of any type of package deal on a supplemental that involves Ukraine, there are some serious concerns about how money is being spent in Ukraine, and whether and how we attack that,” the Indiana Republican added.
The news website Semafor reported on Jan. 30 that Mr. Johnson raised the prospect during a meeting with Baltic officials that President Biden’s supplemental spending request could be broken into separate bills.
When asked about the report from Semafor, a spokesperson for Mr. Johnson’s office told NTD News in an email that the House speaker’s comments were offered in a hypothetical context and declined to elaborate further.
The Senate Border Proposal
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is representing the Republican side in the ongoing deliberations on the border security aspect of President Biden’s supplemental spending request.
One aspect that has undermined Republican faith in Mr. Lankford’s efforts is that the actual text of the proposal has yet to be released to Republican lawmakers.
“I understand the need for discretion because this place leaks like the Titanic, but at the same time, I also understand the need for transparency.”
The purported details of the bill have added to that sense of doubt among Republicans. One alleged aspect is a plan for U.S. border officials to close the border only if they encounter a daily average of 5,000 border crossings over a week.
Critics say that this will allow for up to 1.8 million people to be released into the United States.
“The problem with the Senate’s plan is it doesn’t actually have a border security aspect to it,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) told NTD News on Jan. 29.
“If you’re allowing 1.8 million people to continue to be smuggled by the cartels and say, ‘That’s okay,’ that number, what you’re doing is just legalizing what is happening.”
Mr. Lankford has insisted that this portion of the tentative deal describing up to 5,000 daily border encounters has been misunderstood.
In an interview with Fox News this past weekend, he said his critics are interpreting that 5,000 daily figure in the context of the Biden administration’s policies of releasing people into the United States through parole programs.
He said the 5,000 figure instead represents the number of people that U.S. border officials should be able to detain and process for removal.
“We’re focused on how many people can we process quickly and then deport out of the country, not release into the country,“ Mr. Lankford told Fox News. ”It would be absolutely absurd for anyone to be able to propose something to say we’re just going to slow the number of releases.”
Mr. Lankford said disagreements over the final wording have prevented him from being able to share the precise language with his colleagues.
Clearing the Backlog
Rep. Malliotakis told NTD News that a key issue for U.S. immigration and border officials is to clear a backlog of immigration and asylum claims pending before the U.S. immigration court system. She noted that more than half of applicants don’t qualify for asylum status in the United States.
“We do need more judges to clear this backlog, but we can’t clear the backlog if we continue to allow this unsustainable flow of 2 to 3 million people a year,” she said, adding, “Let’s get through this backlog of people that have been waiting legally for work authorization, for green cards, for asylum, and for citizenship.”
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) also raised concerns about the backlog of immigration cases in comments to NTD News.
Like Ms. Malliotakis, Mr. Goldman noted that more than half of asylum applicants are denied. The New York Democrat insisted that this backlog is one of the factors incentivizing the surge of people arriving at the U.S. southern border.
He further insisted that border and immigration aspects of Mr. Biden’s original supplemental spending request would have addressed this backlog of cases and would alleviate this incentive for illegal immigrants.
“We have such a backlog in our system, that started long before President Biden came in, that people can come here and stay here for many years. So that it is still worth it for them to come,” Mr. Goldman said.
“If we were to have more funding, as President Biden requested to process the asylum backlog faster, then we would not have that incentive for people to come.”
Ms. Malliotakis insisted that existing U.S. laws like the Immigration and Naturalization Act require the Biden administration to take greater steps than it has been to detain and deport people arriving at the U.S. southern border.
Steve Lance and Chris Beers contributed to this article.