Senate Again Blocks Border Bill With Support Lost From Both Parties

Joseph Lord
By Joseph Lord
May 23, 2024Congress
Senate Again Blocks Border Bill With Support Lost From Both Parties
People pass by the U.S. Capitol in Washington on May 16, 2024. (Allison Bailey/Middle East Images via AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate on May 23 again rejected a proposed border bill as the issue continues to dominate voters’ concerns ahead of the 2024 election. The bill was previously blocked by Republicans in February as part of a broader foreign aid package.

Republicans have criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) decision to bring the bill back up for a vote, saying it was a political move aimed at bolstering Democrat messaging ahead of the 2024 elections.

The legislation, dubbed the Border Act of 2024, was rejected in a 43–50 vote that included opposition from members of both parties.

Proponents of the bill claim that it would grant President Joe Biden additional authority to close the border, and say that it would alleviate the situation by providing new funding that could help stop the flow of fentanyl over the border.

“It’s a chance to show we’re serious about fixing the border,” Mr. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.

Opponents say the opposite, with many contending it would only make the situation worse—particularly through a clause that could effectively codify allowing 5,000 illegal aliens into the country a day.

In February, the bill failed to advance a 49–50 vote, including support from four Republicans and opposition from four Democrats.

Several Democrats, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, voted against the measure on Thursday.

These lawmakers tied their opposition to the measure’s lack of protection for “Dreamers,” the recipients of deferred immigration enforcement under President Barack Obama.

No Republicans supported the measure during its second round, with many saying that the vote itself was a political ploy by Democrats that would only worsen the situation at the southern border.

Political PR War

The bill comes amid a PR war among Republicans and Democrats on whose border credentials are stronger even as both sides continue to accuse the other of politicizing the issue, even as its failures on both May 23 and during its original vote came due to bipartisan opposition.

That PR war comes as the border issue continues to dominate voters’ priorities in 2024, with poll after poll showing that voters have far more confidence in former President Donald Trump’s ability to handle the border than have faith in President Biden’s policies.

Now, Democrats are trying to show that they can be strong on the border too—but Republicans say that the whole package is unnecessary, as President Biden already has the authority he needs to close down the border.

“The fact of the matter is that President Trump had the authority to secure the border. He did. Biden used that exact same authority to open it back up,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told The Epoch Times.

Democrats, meanwhile, extolled the effects the bill could potentially have on reducing the flow of fentanyl into the country.

In a memo sent to the press, the White House accused Republicans of being on the side of fentanyl pushers.

“Instead of supporting legislation endorsed by the Border Patrol Union, congressional Republicans sided with fentanyl traffickers,” the White House said.

President Biden has repeatedly endorsed the legislation and called on Congress to take it up.

Amid the debate, both parties are claiming—and responding to claims—that the other party is motivated primarily by politics.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told The Epoch Times that the bill “seems like it’s a Schumer lifeline to guys like Tester,” a reference to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) who’s facing a tough reelection bid in ruby-red Montana.

“Biden could fix the border tomorrow if he wanted to—Trump fixed the border without additional authority,” Mr. Sullivan said. “So my message to President Biden? Fix the border the way Trump did.”

The sentiment was repeated by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who called the second push on the bill “completely a political stunt. I don’t even think it’ll get any Republican votes.”

Like his colleagues, Mr. Paul called on President Biden to fix the border with his preexisting authorities.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Democrats’ lead negotiator on the package, meanwhile rejected the claim that Democrats were pursuing the bill for political advantage, blaming Republicans with political motives seeking to kill the bill.

“I think it’s pretty ironic for a party that openly admits they killed the bill for political reasons to claim that we’re trying to pass a law for political reasons,” Mr. Murphy told reporters.

Mr. Murphy, one of the lead negotiators on the bill, said that it was very different from the House’s H.R. 2 border security bill, which Mr. Murphy dismissed as “transparently a partisan political exercise,” while the Senate bill, he said, is “transparently bipartisan.”

“I just think … Republicans have zero interest in fixing the border because they can’t imagine living in a world in which the border isn’t a political issue,” Mr. Murphy said.

From The Epoch Times

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