Senate tanks immigration, foreign aid spending package after GOP backlash against border provisions

The Senate on Wednesday failed to pass a supplemental spending agreement that included aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as an ambitious border security and immigration package that drew widespread opposition from conservative Republicans in both chambers since its release on Sunday.

The vote was 49-50. It needed 60 votes to pass. The vote went mostly along party lines except five Democratic no votes, and four Republicans voting yes. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren voted against, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also voting against as a procedural move to allow it to be reconsidered at a future time.

Republicans voting yes were Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, James Lankford, R-Okla., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

SENATE RELEASES LONG-AWAITED BORDER LEGISLATION, MAJOR ASYLUM CHANGES

The package had been negotiated for months by Sens. Lankford, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Krysten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Biden administration officials — and it was unveiled on Sunday evening. The $118 billion package included $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, aid to Taiwan and humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and $20 billion in measures to tackle the historic and ongoing crisis at the southern border. It came in response to a White House supplemental funding request submitted to Congress late last year. 

At the core of the border package was an “emergency border authority” to mandate Title 42-style expulsions of migrants when migration levels exceed 5,000 a day over a seven-day rolling average. It also would narrow asylum eligibility while expediting the process from years to months, provide immediate work permits for asylum seekers and fund a massive increase in staffing at the border and more immigration judges. It also includes increased numbers of green cards, extra funding for NGOs and cities receiving migrants, $650 million for border wall funding and $450 million for countries to take back and re-settle illegal immigrants.

Migrants standing in a line along the border wall

Migrants attempting to cross into San Luis, Arizona from Mexico are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the border on August 20, 2022. (Nick Ut/Getty Images)

But while the administration and negotiators talked the bill up as a tough but fair way to tackle the border crisis, Republicans in the House immediately declared it a non-starter and conservative opposition in the Senate quickly stacked up. More than 20 Republican lawmakers in the upper chamber argued this week the provisions would not sufficiently reduce the historic number of illegal migrant crossings, and warned it would normalize record-high levels of illegal immigration. 

“We supported a negotiation to bring commonsense border security to this country,” Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, said on Tuesday. “We did not agree to a border fig leaf to send another $61 billion to Ukraine.”

“But the fact of the matter is the package includes catch and release still providing additional continuing incentives for people to come to the country illegally knowing they’ll be released into the interior and it does nothing to stop the Biden administration from abusing something called parole” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

It also found opposition from some liberal Democrat senators and left-wing immigration groups who claimed it would harm migrants seeking asylum. Menendez had called the bill an outright betrayal to the communities we have sworn an oath to protect and represent.” The text was released on Sunday night and by Tuesday morning, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said it had no chance of passing.

IMMIGRATION HAWKS WARN CONGRESS THAT SENATE DEAL WILL HANDCUFF FUTURE ADMINISTRATIONS ON SECURING BORDER

“I think, in the end, even though the product is approved by the [National Border Patrol Council] that adores President Trump, most of our members feel that we’re not going to be able to make a law here,” said McConnell, a strong supporter of aid to Ukraine

With the border and foreign aid package now dead, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will proceed to tee up a vote on the supplemental package without the border security section, although the timing on that was not immediately clear. But Republicans are likely to oppose that too, having promised that they would only approve more funding for Ukraine once the southern border is secure.

Schumer and McConnell

Schumer and McConnell (Getty Images)

Supporters of the package expressed disappointment about the bill’s failure.

“Both Democrats and Republicans are probably pretty happy that we’re not going to do anything about border security,” Sinema told Fox News’s Bill Hemmer on America’s Newsroom before the vote. “But as Arizona’s senator, I can tell you, this is devastating to my state.”

Schumer told reporters at their weekly press conference on Tuesday the package “is so important for the security of America at the border for the security of Ukraine and Israel” when asked if the Senate would consider repackaging the foreign aid provisions and move forward on just those items without the border bill.

“We’re going to keep at it,” Schumer said. “This is not the last Republicans will hear from us.”

IMMIGRATION HAWKS WARN CONGRESS THAT SENATE DEAL WILL HANDCUFF FUTURE ADMINISTRATIONS ON SECURING BORDER

Republicans, meanwhile, expressed their commitment to securing the border before agreeing to Ukraine aid. 

“Although that legislation has fallen short of expectations, Republicans must remain committed to securing the border and not walk away from the position that they have promised to uphold for months to the American people,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah wrote on X. “Republicans should always put the safety and security of the American people FIRST. Passing Ukraine aid without achieving REAL border security not only betrays that agreement, but also undermines our unity as a conference.”

Senators James Lankford and Kyrsten SInema

 U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) talks to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) talk during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee hearing on Title 42, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on September 6, 2023 in Washington, DC.  (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The debate over the border part of the package touched on years-long differences between Republicans and Democrats over how to handle the border. Republicans have demanded the administration stop releasing migrants into the interior, and have called for the restoration of Trump-era policies they believe solved the border crisis. They have subsequently claimed that President Biden does not need extra authority or legislation to solve the border crisis, and just needs to adopt the correct policies.

The administration has claimed it is working within a “broken” system that needs funding and comprehensive immigration reform. Officials have also repeatedly called for a mass amnesty of illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.

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Had the bill passed the Senate, it would have almost certainly been overwhelmingly rejected in the GOP-held House, where leadership had explicitly come out against the package and where more Democrats were also opposed to it due to objections about the border security provisions.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates. 

Original News Source Link – Fox News

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