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Bleak future for immigration action after Senate GOP abandons border security agreement • Georgia Recorder

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Bleak future for immigration action after Senate GOP abandons border security agreement • Georgia Recorder

WASHINGTON – Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday walked away from the bipartisan border security and immigration deal negotiated after months of arduous negotiations, siding with their colleagues in the House of Representatives and President Donald Trump's top candidate.

The decision to block the bill, released just two days ago, not only leaves in place legislation that GOP lawmakers say has led to a “crisis” at the southern border, but also extends the stalemate over whether Congress which will authorize aid to Ukraine and Israel was rolled into the package.

Republicans said months ago that the only way to support additional aid for the two warring U.S. allies was if Democrats worked with them to “secure” the border.

But that requirement fell by the wayside this week after U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, and dozens of GOP lawmakers expressed opposition to the bill, which was negotiated by a bipartisan trio of senators . Johnson instead introduced a standalone bill that would only provide aid for Israel – and it was rejected in Tuesday night's vote.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, one of three senators who spent months negotiating the immigration provisions in the measure released Sunday, said he believes there will be a “significant” impact if Republicans walk away from the deal entirely distance himself from the drafting of which he helped.

Lankford also expressed dismay that some of the lawmakers opposing the package don't really understand how the proposed immigration law changes would work.

“That’s the part that’s disappointing to me,” Lankford said. “If you don’t agree with it, then agree with it based on the facts of the bill, not based on facts that are actually not true.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday it was obvious the overall package could not pass Congress and urged support for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to move forward independently.

“There are other parts of this amendment that are extremely important — Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan,” McConnell said. “In my opinion we should still tackle the rest because it is important. Not that the border isn’t important, but we can’t get a result.”

The Kentucky Republican declined to comment on whether Trump was responsible for blocking the package after months of complex talks, saying the situation had evolved.

“I followed the guidance of my conference, which insisted that we get started on this in October,” McConnell said. “Actually, it was our side that wanted to address the border issue. We started doing that.”

“But as I said, things have changed in the last four months, and the speaker has made it clear that he would not take up the issue even if we sent it to him,” McConnell said. “And I think that's probably why most of our members think we should object tomorrow … and then move forward with the rest of the amendment.”

The procedural vote on the package, which requires at least 60 senators to achieve final passage, is scheduled for Wednesday.

Biden blames Trump

President Joe Biden expressed frustration Tuesday that Republicans will not support the immigration deal as current GOP front-runner Trump stokes fears about immigration as a central campaign message.

“Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically,” Biden said. “Look, I understand that the former president is desperately trying to stop this bill because he's not interested in solving the border issue, he wants a political issue going against me.”

Biden warned that if the bill is not sent to his desk for his signature, “the American people will know why it failed.”

“Every day until November, the American people will learn that the only reason the border is not secure is because of Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends,” Biden said.

Biden said providing aid to Ukraine was critical but declined to say he would support including the immigration proposals in separate legislation to allow passage of the amendment.

“We need everything,” Biden said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said he was willing to give Republican senators additional time to read the bill and prepare changes to the package.

But Schumer rejected her decision to block implementation of the law, saying Republicans were unwilling to stand up to Trump's “bullying” despite knowing he was wrong.

Schumer gave no prediction as to whether he would introduce a standalone aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after Wednesday's vote on the overall package.

“We will vote on the bill tomorrow. The invoice that we have. We will continue to move forward. Stay tuned,” Schumer said.

Big changes in immigration law

The Senate agreement led to a significant overhaul of immigration law, including raising the threshold for migrants to apply for asylum, creating a temporary process to close the border during active periods, and clarifying presidential authority over humanitarian parole programs, among other measures .

Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Republicans' newfound resistance to the border security and immigration policy changes they originally wanted are “absolutely” impacting voters' mindsets heading into the election November will have.

“This is significant border security legislation, and Republicans oppose it,” Peters said. “And that will come back to haunt them.”

A move away from bipartisan compromise will have “big implications for all states, not just border states,” Peters said.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, whom Democrats tapped to negotiate the immigration deal, said it was “outrageous” that Republicans rejected the amendment and immigration reforms “because Donald Trump asked them to.”

“Republicans decided that rather than solving the problem, it would be better to keep the chaos at the border as an election issue,” Murphy said.

“We reached a compromise that would actually solve the problem, and it turns out that Republicans don't want to solve the problem, they want to leave immigration open as a political agenda item that they can exploit.”

South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds said it was “disappointing” to him and many other Republican senators that Trump criticized the proposal in this way.

“There is no perfect bill,” said Rounds, who said on X Tuesday night that he planned to oppose it.

“With the ability to actually offer changes, many of us were hoping that we would get the bill to the point where it would be better than it is today,” Rounds said. “And then we could move forward and hopefully the House could even consider it with some additional amendments. And that was our goal.”

The House of Representatives votes on a bill for independent aid to Israel

While McConnell now wants Congress to provide additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in the absence of a larger package, Republican leaders in the House had already put forward their own proposal.

Their bill, defeated by a vote of 250 to 180 on Tuesday night, would provide $17.6 billion in aid to Israel and other American interests in the Middle East. This did not include emergency aid for other countries.

Fourteen Republicans voted against the bill while 46 Democrats voted for its passage.

House Republican leaders are putting the bill up for a vote under a so-called suspension of the rules, a maneuver that requires a two-thirds majority to pass. That's why it wasn't passed, even though it had the majority of votes.

The so-called suspension calendar is typically used for largely bipartisan, non-controversial bills, such as renaming a post office. But House Republicans have increasingly used it to pass more consequential bills.

Laws made while suspending the rules cannot be changed.

Debate in the House over the bill was largely along party lines, with Republicans arguing and Democrats saying the Israel-only aid bill was the best way to help the country in its ongoing war against Hamas after the Oct. 7 attacks , Congress must make an effort to help other allies So.

The Biden administration threatened to veto the bill on Monday, saying in a statement on government policy that it was “another cynical political maneuver.”

“Israel’s security should be sacred, not a political game,” the Biden administration wrote.

“The administration firmly rejects this ploy, which does nothing to secure the border, does nothing to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves against Putin’s aggression, fails to ensure the safety of American synagogues, mosques and vulnerable places of worship, and denies humanitarian assistance .” to Palestinian civilians, most of whom are women and children.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter that Democrats would not support the standalone bill.

“Unfortunately, the standalone legislation that House Republicans introduced at the last minute over the weekend without notice or consultation is not offered in good faith,” he wrote.

“Rather, it is a blatant and cynical attempt by MAGA extremists to undermine the possibility of a comprehensive, bipartisan funding package that addresses America’s national security challenges in the Middle East, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific and around the world.”

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