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.

The package had been negotiated for months by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla, 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.

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."

It also found opposition from some liberal Democrat senators and left-wing immigration groups who claimed it would harm migrants seeking asylum. The text was released on Sunday night and by Tuesday morning, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said it had no chance of passing.

"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 later in the afternoon. 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.... (Read more)

Submitted 23 days ago

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