Votes on a major bipartisan immigration deal in Congress are reportedly imminent • Georgia Recorder

WASHINGTON – A vote in the U.S. Senate is expected next week on a bipartisan deal that would overhaul U.S. immigration law and provide more than $100 billion for a global security package.

The long-awaited legislative text of the additional package to support Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific region and US border security could be published as early as Friday or as late as Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday.

He said he planned to submit a procedural motion on Monday that would “lead to the first vote on the national security amendment no later than Wednesday.”

The immigration deal faces two major problems: funding and former President Donald Trump.

Chief Republican negotiator James Lankford of Oklahoma said work on the bill is in its final stages, something negotiators have repeatedly emphasized.

“It's all technical aspects … it's just checking again and again,” Lankford told reporters at the Capitol. “It’s a frustrating season, though. Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. It feels like it's today.” He was referring to the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, in which a weatherman is forced to relive Groundhog Day over and over again in a time loop.

There are still problems with cost and campaign policies. “Our political deal is done,” said lead Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “But it requires the bill to fund the changes Republicans are demanding, and if you support this deal, you must provide the necessary funding to make that happen.”

Murphy declined to comment on cost estimates for the legislation, which would make changes to U.S. asylum law and enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border.

He added that he was “increasingly concerned” that Senate Republicans could pull out of the deal due to outside pressure from Trump, the current GOP front-runner, who wants to scrap it to continue stoking immigration fears as part of his 2024 presidential campaign to stir up platform.

“The Republicans are talking about walking away from this just because Donald Trump doesn’t like it — that’s ridiculous,” Murphy said.

Trump continues his attacks

Schumer said on the Senate floor that as negotiations progress, “there are increasingly loud voices from outside that want to derail these negotiations.”

“There will always be some who would rather exploit the border problem than fix it. So the real question is whether senators can tune out all this noise and focus on reaching an agreement,” he said.

During a meeting with the Teamsters Union on Wednesday in Washington, DC, Trump reiterated on the Senate floor that he opposes the immigration deal.

“You don’t need an agreement to tighten and secure the border,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to get a great bill.”

Trump added that if Republicans voted for the bill, he thought they would be “making a terrible mistake.”

Biden is pushing for a deal

President Joe Biden publicly committed in mid-January to enacting the Senate's bipartisan agreement, which Arizona independents Senators Lankford, Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema spent four months working on.

Proposed immigration policy changes include limiting the Biden administration's use of parole powers, which the government has relied heavily on to provide temporary protection to migrants by allowing them to live in the United States without visas work.

Another possibility would be to raise the hurdle for migrants to apply for asylum and speed up deportation procedures. Murphy noted, “This isn’t happening for nothing.”

“That’s just the reality: If you want to step up and provide emergency power at the border, you have to fund it,” he said. “If you want to drastically shorten the asylum processing time, you have to finance it.”

It's not up to Congress, says Johnson

The Republican-led House of Representatives, which includes Louisiana Speaker Mike Johnson, appeared less receptive to approving the Senate's bipartisan deal before the text of the bill was even released.

On Wednesday, Johnson said in his first speech as House speaker that the decision on U.S. immigration law rests with Biden, not Congress, while also advocating for changes to the southern border.

“President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas planned this disaster,” Johnson said, referring to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is currently being impeached by House Republicans.

“And now President Biden wants to somehow shift the blame onto Congress rather than take responsibility or responsibility for what they clearly did.”

Tensions between Texas and the federal government have also increased since the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Lone Star State to remove barbed wire fences along the Texas-Mexico border. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has defied those orders, and Republicans, including Johnson, have supported his decision.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, along with 14 Republican governors, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, are traveling to Texas this weekend to tour the southern border. The governors will also hold a news conference to protest the Biden administration's border policies.