A bipartisan group of senators finally released the text of a sprawling immigration and security supplemental deal, but Republican intra-party warfare is likely to tank its passage.
The $118 billion deal, backed by the White House, includes aide to Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine and also for securing the southern border amid a massive increase in illegal migration. President Biden said ‘I strongly support it’ in a statement out Sunday.
Biden administration officials, including Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, became involved in the Capitol Hill talks in mid-December – the month that saw the highest number of migrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border of all time at over 302,000.
The bill would mandate that the border is shut if there are 5,000 encounters over a week or 8,500 encountered in a single day.
The 370-page text comes out as Senate Republicans have expressed frustrations and even accused their colleagues of opposing the border bill over election year politics and for moving too quickly.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and several other GOP hardliners in the Senate have said a ‘single weekend’ to review the massive bill ‘doesn’t count’ and is demanding more time to interview witnesses and examine the text before a vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. called it the ‘oldest game in town’ bringing the major piece of legislation before a recess or holiday but ‘hopes’ Speaker Mike Johnson will give the bill a ‘fair shake’ if it passes the Senate.
Johnson announced Saturday that the House separately will be bringing a ‘clean, standalone’ $17 billion Israel aide to the floor next week as the Senate prepares to move forward its supplemental package.
Speaker Johnson announced Saturday that the House separately will be bringing a ‘clean, standalone’ $17 billion Israel aide to the floor next week
President Biden said ‘I strongly support it’ in a statement out Sunday
Former President Donald Trump is urging Congress to abandon the deal before the text of the deal has even been released
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a leader on the border talks, was censured by his home state GOP last month
He previously threatened that the Senate border security deal would be ‘dead upon arrival’ in the House and any bill that allows ‘even one illegal crossing’ is a ‘non-starter.’
It includes $6 billion to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for security enforcement and investigations relating to ‘migration surges along the southwest border’ and ‘counter-fentanyl activities.’
And over $40 billion will be allotted to ‘respond to the situations’ in Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
President Biden expressed support for the legislation, saying Sunday that he ‘strongly’ supports it.
‘Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it.’
‘It will make our country safer, make our border more secure, treat people fairly and humanely while preserving legal immigration, consistent with our values as a nation.’
He went on to say that he hopes Republicans stop ‘playing politics’ with the border.
‘I’ve made my decision. I’m ready to solve the problem. I’m ready to secure the border. And so are the American people. I know we have our divisions at home but we cannot let partisan politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation,’ he added.
Former President Donald Trump has also urged Congress to abandon the deal before the text of the deal has even been released.
Trump lambasted the deal in post on Truth Social over recent weeks, saying the ‘horrific’ bill is being used by Democrats to put the ‘border disaster’ onto the ‘shoulders of Republicans.’
‘There is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,’ Trump also said of the deal at a rally last weekend.
‘A lot of the senators, they’re trying to blame it on me,’ he went on. ‘I say, ‘that’s okay, please blame it on me.’ I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill.’
But the White House insists the deal will institute ‘the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country’ and give Biden new executive authority to ‘shut down the border.’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the daily briefing Monday that Speaker Mike Johnson must ‘step up’ and provide the ‘authorities’ needed to secure the border.
But Johnson has said Biden could take executive action to ‘immediately’ reverse the ‘catastrophe’ at the border – and doesn’t need Congress’ help.
He has said Biden ‘falsely claimed’ he needs Congress to pass a new law to allow him to close the southern border.
‘He knows that is untrue,’ Johnson said in a statement.
Biden said in a written statement that the deal would allow him ‘a new emergency authority’ to close the border. He added: ‘And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.’
But Trump insisted Congress did not need to pass legislation – that the executive branch already has the authority it needs to secure the border.
‘I had the safest and most secure Border in U.S. History. I didn’t need a ‘Bill!’ They are using this horrific Senate Bill as a way of being able to put the BORDER DISASTER onto the shoulders of the Republicans. The Democrats BROKE THE BORDER, they should fix it. NO LEGISLATION IS NEEDED, IT’S ALREADY THERE!!!’ he wrote on Truth Social.
Johnson said the House won’t take up the legislation unless it ends catch-and-release and reinstates the Remain in Mexico program.
An aerial view of the area as migrants walking along razor wire after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States on January 28, 2024
‘It is interesting, Republicans four months ago, would not give funding for Ukraine for Israel and for our southern border because we demanded changes in policy. So we actually locked arms together and said, We’re not going to give you money for this. We want to change the law,’ Sen. James Lankford, Okla., said on Fox News over the weekend.
‘A few months later, when we’re finally going to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding. I actually don’t want to change in law because the presidential election year,” he went on.
Back home Lankford was censured over the weekend by the Oklahoma GOP, which threatened to withdraw support for him if he did not ‘cease and desist jeopardizing the security and liberty of the people of Oklahoma.’
‘The fact that [Trump] would communicate to Republican senators…that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling,’ Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters last week.
‘If we fail to get this passed, I’m going to file exactly the same bill if Trump wins and we have a majority of the Senate. I’ll guarantee you that everybody who’s against it. It’s all about politics and not having the courage to respectfully disagree with President Trump and tell him: ‘This will help him.’ He has requested it before,’ Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said.
‘I didn’t come here to have a president as a boss or a candidate as a boss. I came here to pass good, solid policy that will help a president who is serious [about] securing the border.’
Lankford avidly disputed Trump’s assertion that the deal would lead to ‘open borders’ – and reports that it would allow up to 5,000 crossers per day before allowing immediate expulsion.
‘It would be absolutely absurd for me to agree to 5,000 people a day. This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day,’ he said.
The Oklahoma Republican insisted the deal would increase the number of border agents and asylum officers, increase detention beds, end catch and release, up the number of deportation flights and speed up asylum screening.
‘It is a shutdown of the border and everyone actually gets turned around. Okay, that’s the focus that we have right now. Is how do we actually intervene in this administration, in turn people around not let people in,’ he said.