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Biden administration dares Republicans to vote for Senate border package

The Biden administration is goading Senate Republicans to support a revival of the failed bipartisan border deal that they abandoned after former President Trump came out against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning a second vote on the bill Thursday, though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday told President Biden that Republicans plan to vote against it.

White House officials on Wednesday sought to put the onus for border inaction on the GOP.

“Senate Republicans will have another opportunity to decide whether they want to support the toughest, fairest border security agreement in decades or whether they will continue putting their partisan political interests ahead of the nation and security,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call.

The blame game highlights the downward spiral the deal has taken from a much-touted — and much feared — actionable piece of legislation early this year to a twice-doomed messaging bill with no chance of becoming law.

In February’s vote, only four Republicans voted for the deal, despite its hawkish contents, leaving McConnell with a black eye. Later that month, he announced he would leave his leadership post in November.

On the Democratic side, the deal raised the ire of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), a key immigration stakeholder that was visibly kept out of the negotiating room, though it attracted some cautious support from progressives eager to see forward motion on the issue.

One of the progressives who voted for the deal in February, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), on Tuesday announced he would not vote for it again, saying he had supported it “to emphasize my commitment to continued debate on solving the challenges at the border, despite my serious concerns with some of the substance of the underlying legislation.”

“I was appalled to watch Senate Republicans reject a bipartisan bill that they negotiated and agreed upon because of pressure from Donald Trump. This is the height of hypocrisy and shows that Senate Republicans aren’t committed to meaningfully solving the problems at our border,” said Booker in a statement.

But Schumer is expected to move ahead with the vote, allowing vulnerable Democrats including Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.) and Bob Casey (Penn.) to tout their support for a tough border bill while making the case for Republican obstructionism.

Republicans dismissed the new vote as a political stunt, doubling down on their message that Biden’s policies are solely responsible for conditions at the border. Even Sen. James Lankford (Okla.), the lead Republican architect of the bill, bashed Schumer’s new vote as a political effort to protect vulnerable Democrats

The legislation itself remains unchanged from its earlier iteration, which was skewered by immigrant rights activists, in particular for a provision to “shut down” the border after a number of registered crossings in a given time period.

The government does not have the capacity to actually shut down the border; the measure’s supporters have been using the term as a placeholder for the authority to stop processing asylum requests and to conduct summary expulsions of migrants to Mexico.

That authority mirrors the core concept behind the Trump administration’s border strategy, with summary expulsions at the heart of policies like Title 42 and the Migrant Protection Protocols, better known as “remain in Mexico.”

Biden administration officials on Wednesday pointed to two core differences between the Trump administration’s implementation of expulsions and those proposed by the defunct deal: a statutory three-year sunset clause for the authority and an exception for “individuals who present in a safe and orderly way at a port of entry” with a previously scheduled appointment through the CBP One app.

Regardless, advocates say the bill will lead to worsening humanitarian conditions at the border, and any action to enforce proposals in the bill through executive action could backfire politically.

“Nothing in this bill will change the dynamics at the border, or the politics of the situation. However, these measures will, without question, place asylum seekers in even more treacherous danger, and some will surely die as a result,” said Thomas Cartwright, an advocate with Witness at the Border.

“We urge President Biden to resist the temptation to secure a deal just to get a deal, especially one that is ineffective, dangerous and counter to the values of our nation. And, moreover, if rebuffed by vote, we would find it abhorrent, and a betrayal of his campaign promises to put in place an executive order invoking the worst parts of the Senate bill.”


Source: The Hill

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