A group of Republican lawmakers have moved to block President Joe Biden’s administration from potentially paying up to $450,000 in taxpayer money to some illegal aliens who were separated at the border under former President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policies.
Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Rick Scott (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Mike Braun (R-IN) on Tuesday introduced the Congressional Review of Agency Legal Settlements Act. According to Lankford’s office, the bill “empowers Congress to ensure agencies don’t skirt the formal rulemaking processes of the Administration Procedures Act and misuse federal tax dollars for exorbitant financial awards in legal settlements.”
“If the Biden administration is going to propose settlements as a way to pay people off, like the $450,000 settlements for illegal border crossers, then the agreements should be subject to congressional disapproval and nullification just like other ill-advised executive actions like vaccine mandates,” Lankford said in a statement.
Reports emerged in October that the Biden administration planned to pay members of families separated at the border as much as $450,000 apiece. A short time after the reports, Biden said they were “garbage” and “That’s not going to happen” — but a day later White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president was “perfectly comfortable” with giving payouts to separated families although she did not confirm an amount.
“The president was – what he was reacting to was the dollar figure that was mentioned,” Jean-Pierre said.
When Biden was questioned about the reports by the media at a White House briefing, Biden exploded.
“I’d like to ask you, real quick, sir: Where do you stand?” a reporter asked. “You said last week that this report about migrant families at the border getting payments was ‘garbage.’”
“No, I didn’t say that,” Biden claimed.
“Let’s get it straight. You said everybody coming across the border gets $500- — $450,000,” Biden said.
“Now, here’s the thing: If in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you were coming across the border, whether it was legal or illegal, and you lost your child — you lost your child — it’s gone — you deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance,” Biden yelled. “What that will be, I have no idea. I have no idea. Yes.”
Here’s the interaction that Biden had with a reporter earlier that week where he called the reports “garbage”:
REPORTER: Mr. President, as you were leaving for your overseas trip, there were reports that were surfacing that your administration is planning to pay illegal immigrants who are separated from their families at the border up to $450,000 each, possibly a million dollars per family. Do you think that that might incentivize more people to come over illegally?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT: If you guys keep sending that garbage out? Yeah. But it’s not true.
REPORTER: So this is a garbage report?
REPORTER: Okay. So–
BIDEN: $450,000 per person? Is that what you’re saying?
REPORTER: That was separated from a family member at the border under the last administration.
BIDEN: That’s not going to happen.