Republicans Block Bipartisan Border Bill in the Senate

Republicans Block Bipartisan Border Bill in the Senate

Reuters/Mary F. Calvert

The Senate on Thursday failed for a second time to advance a border bill that would expand presidential power to restrict immigration, reduce the number of asylum claims and provide additional funding for security and legal personnel.

The bill was the product of a bipartisan compromise reached in February. It failed in the Senate after former President Donald Trump said he opposed it and indicated he wanted to keep the issue alive for political reasons. Thursday’s second vote on the bill was seen largely as a messaging opportunity for Democrats, who say Republicans are more interested in using the border for political posturing than in taking steps to improve the situation.

The vote was 43-50, with only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voting in favor of the bill. Six Democrats and the rest of the Republicans voted no. Two of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, independent of Arizona, voted against it. The bill’s third sponsor, Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, voted yes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, hammered the political message home. “The contrast between Democrats and Republicans is clear today and will be even clearer in November,” he said. “Democrats want to fix the border and get something done. Republicans want to give speeches, let the border fester and do absolutely nothing to fix the problem.”

The White House echoed the theme. “Congressional Republicans do not care about securing the border or fixing America’s broken immigration system,” President Joe Biden said following the failed vote. “If they did, they would have voted for the toughest border enforcement in history. Instead, today, they put partisan politics ahead of our country’s national security.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell defended his caucus’s rejection of the bill, while claiming the border crisis is wholly the responsibility of the Biden administration. “The president needs to step up to it — do everything he can do on his own because legislation is obviously not going to clear this year,” McConnell told reporters earlier this week.