Border Bill Fails Senate Test Vote as Democrats Seek to Underscore Republican Resistance

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters following a Democratic strategy session, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans again blocked a bill meant to clamp down on the number of migrants allowed to claim asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sought Thursday to underscore GOP resistance to the proposal.The legislation, negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators, was already rejected by most Republicans in February when it was linked to a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. But with immigration and border security becoming one of the top issues of this year’s election, Democrats are looking for an answer to the barrage of GOP attacks, led by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.”To those who’ve said for years Congress needs to act on the border, this bipartisan bill is the answer, and it’s time to show we’re serious about fixing the problem,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said ahead of the vote.Schumer is trying to defend a narrow Senate majority in this year’s election and sees the Republican’s rejection of the deal they negotiated as a political “gift” for Democrats.When the proposal was brought up in February, a test vote failed 49-50 — well shy of the 60 votes needed to advance. While a majority of Democrats again supported the procedural vote to begin debate on the bill Thursday, the proposal lost traction in the Senate as not even some of the primary authors, Sens. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, and Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona independent, voted for Schumer’s move.”Today is not a bill, today is a prop,” Lankford said on the floor ahead of the vote. “Everyone sees it for what it is.”Sinema called the vote “political theater” that will do nothing to solve problems at the border.”To use this failure as a political punching bag only punishes those who were courageous enough to do the hard work in the first place,” she said.Republican leaders spent much of the week decrying the vote as a bald-faced political maneuver and amplifying a well-worn criticism of President Joe Biden: That he bears responsibility for the historic number of migrants who have made their way to the U.S. in recent years.”We’re nearing the end of President Biden’ s term, and the American people’s patience for his failing to secure the southern border is running thin,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday.Earlier in the week, McConnell told reporters, “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.”Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters Monday that legislation to address problems at the border — as opposed to executive actions by the president — would be more effective. The Senate legislation would provide more money for Customs and Border Protection officials, asylum officers, immigration judges and scanning technology at the border — all things that officials have said the underfunded immigration and border protection system needs.”The legislation provides tools that executive action cannot,” Mayorkas said.The Senate bill is aimed at gaining control of an asylum system that has sometimes been overwhelmed in the last year. It would provide faster and tougher enforcement of the asylum process, as well as give presidents new powers to immediately expel migrants if the numbers encountered by border officials exceed an average of 4,000 per day over a week.


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