Last Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of President Biden’s foreign aid package because congressional Democrats refused to include meaningful provisions to secure our own borders. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) attempted to bring the package to the floor for a key procedural vote — a vote to proceed to debate, which requires a 60-vote threshold – but was unable to secure any Republican votes. The final tally was 49-51, with two Democrats also voting no for unrelated reasons.
The foreign aid package included funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, along with more money to continue processing and releasing illegal aliens at the southern border. The bill largely follows the Biden Administration’s supplemental funding request from October, including money for the border that would do nothing but reinforce the broken system without changing the policies that have fueled the crisis.
Schumer’s move followed several weeks of border security negotiations that saw Republicans pushing for commonsense reforms to end asylum abuse and stop unlimited parole authority. Democrats meanwhile, were attempting to paint the discussions as “hard-right” while raising the idea of amnesty once again. The negotiations stalled right before the vote, with both sides expressing frustration.
The Senate group leading border security talks, in coordination with Senate leadership, restarted discussions on Thursday, noting that a new proposal is now on the table. That group is made up of Republicans James Lankford (R-Okla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with Democrats Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Krysten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Senior Senate Republicans also held a press conference Thursday, making clear their continued commitment to border security changes as part of the foreign aid package. Attending senators included Graham, Cotton, Tillis, John Thune (S.D.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Texas), and Katie Britt (Ala.). Following introductory comments from Sen. Graham reiterating that amnesty is not being considered, Minority Whip Thune said Republicans are “dead serious” about ending the Biden Administration’s border crisis.
The comments echo those from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who after the vote stated: “It is profoundly unserious to pretend that national security priorities don’t include securing our nation’s borders… Right now, the crisis created by the Biden Administration’s neglect is bringing illegal aliens to the United States at a rate of 300,000 a month. That’s roughly the population of Lexington, Kentucky, arriving every month. And thanks to an asylum and parole system that desperately needs fixing, many of them are just brought straight in.” For his part, Schumer referred to last Wednesday as a “sad night,” continuing to say, “I hope that [Republicans] come up with something serious instead of the extreme policies they’ve presented thus far.”
The Senate vote came the same week that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 12,000 illegal aliens attempting to enter the country illegally in a single day – the largest number ever recorded. And, over the weekend, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs sent a letter to the Biden Administration demanding more than half a billion dollars be reimbursed for “ongoing border operations resulting from the federal government’s failure to secure the Arizona border.” That development continues the trend of Democrat leaders calling out the Biden Administration on the issue, after Democrats in New York and Chicago also had criticism for the Administration in recent weeks.
Having demonstrated a united front last week, congressional Republicans have a real chance to deliver a win for the American people by standing firm. Three years into the Biden Border Crisis, this foreign aid package is perhaps the best opportunity to end the border surge by ensuring policy reforms are included to detain and remove illegal aliens, curb massive asylum fraud and halt the Administration’s rampant abuse of parole authority. Fortunately, a blueprint to do that already exists in the FAIR-supported H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, passed by the House of Representatives in May 2023. Throwing more money at the border crisis won’t solve it. We need real policy reforms and H.R. 2 is the solution.
To learn more about H.R. 2 and FAIR’s efforts to support strong measures to secure our borders, visit our activist toolkit here.
Joe Chatham joined FAIR in 2022, bringing significant congressional, campaign, and nonprofit experience to the organization. As part of FAIR’s influential government relations team, he helps manage Capitol Hill outreach and policy, advocating for a secure border and a just, equitable legal immigration system.
Before joining FAIR, Joe worked with a large range of organizations, from congressional offices and political campaigns, to intergovernmental organizations and think tanks. Most recently, he served as counsel to a member of congress, where he handled the representative’s immigration portfolio for the House Committee on the Judiciary.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.
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