Senators Unveil Long-Awaited Border Bill

Senators have finally unveiled the details of the long-awaited bill to fund Ukraine, Israel, and impose border security measures.

A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a highly anticipated bill that includes border security measures as well as additional funding for Ukraine and Israel, which House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has said is “dead on arrival” in the House.

During a Jan. 28 appearance on CNN, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the negotiators, announced that a border deal had been reached.

Nearly a week later, lawmakers finally unveiled the long-awaited text of the bill (pdf).

The $118 billion package addresses a wide array of national security expenses, including funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, as well as provisions strengthening and funding border security. According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, $60 billion is allocated to Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, and $20 billion to implement the border security measures.

Wrangling over border security comprised the bulk of the negotiators’ time, as Republicans sought to gain stricter concessions on border security and Democrats sought less strict provisions.

Negotiated by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), the package—if passed—would represent the largest border legislation in decades.

Border Measures

The bill provides a new emergency authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to restrict border crossings if an average of 4,000 daily encounters is hit over a one-week span. If this threshold is reached, then the DHS secretary could shut down the border by denying illegal immigrants the ability to apply for asylum.

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But if average encounters reach 5,000 a day over a given week, then the DHS secretary is required to shut down the border. The deal also limits the president’s parole authority, a power that gives the president the ability to allow more illegal immigrants into the country.

The deal raises the legal bar for the initial screening of asylum claims. It would also expedite the asylum processing time to six months from many years.

The package also doesn’t include a restoration of former President Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, which many Republicans have told The Epoch Times is a must-have.

In a statement following the release of the text, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called it “a monumental step towards strengthening America’s national security abroad and along our borders.

“This is one of the most necessary and important pieces of legislation Congress has put forward in years to ensure America’s future prosperity and security,” Mr. Schumer added.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanie (R-N.Y.), meanwhile, called it “an absolute non-starter” that she said would “further incentivize thousands of illegals to pour in across our borders daily.”

She called for the restoration of Remain in Mexico and other Trump era immigration policies instead.

Mr. Lankford, the key Republican negotiator on the package, has faced scorn and criticism from his party for his role in the deal’s creation.

But in a statement following the release of the text, Mr. Lankford defended the deal he had put together.

“The border security bill will put a huge number of new enforcement tools in the hands of a future administration and push the current Administration to finally stop the illegal flow,” Mr. Lankford said.

“The bill provides funding to build the wall, increase technology at the border, and add more detention beds, more agents, and more deportation flights. The border security bill ends the abuse of parole on our southwest border that has waived in over a million people. It dramatically changes our ambiguous asylum laws by conducting fast screenings at a higher standard of evidence, limited appeals, and fast deportation.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was also enthusiastic in his support.

“The Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border created an unprecedented crisis, and the urgent humanitarian and security consequences affect every state,“ Mr. McConnell said. ”It is time to force the President to start cleaning up his mess and equip future leaders with a system that works and new emergency tools to restore order.

“I am grateful to Senator Lankford for working tirelessly to ensure that supplemental national security legislation begins with direct and immediate solutions to the crisis at our southern border.”

The bill comes amid the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. There have been 785,422 encounters at the southwest border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection just since the start of the 2024 fiscal year, which began in October, according to the agency. It said there were almost 2.48 million encounters the previous fiscal year—an increase of 96,725 from fiscal year 2022. It is unclear how many have evaded officers at the border.

Additionally, the proposal comes as Israel continues to battle Hamas since the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state that included launching rockets from Gaza, which it controls, into Israel, killing more than 1,000 people and taking at least 200 hostages.

Finally, the funding for Ukraine would be crucial as U.S. assistance ran out at the end of last year. The Eastern European country was invaded by Russia almost two years ago. The fighting between the two sides has appeared to be a stalemate following Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive.

Still, the package’s fate is far from certain.

It’s set to come up for a vote in the Senate this week.

But House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has said he won’t bring it to the floor in the House.

Instead, Mr. Johnson has proposed a standalone bill that would provide around $17.6 billion in aid to Israel. Other topics like Taiwan, Ukraine, and the border aren’t addressed in that package.

These two competing packages are setting the stage for a showdown between the House and Senate later this month, as both chambers are likely to refuse the other’s proposal.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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