Senate Fails To Advance Border Security Compromise
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, center, during a news conference following the weekly Democratic caucus luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.
(Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled Senate failed to advance bipartisan legislation coupling border security and immigration reforms with funds for Ukraine, Israel, and other foreign causes.

Forty-nine senators voted for the $118 billion package, while 50 opposed it. Four Republicans supported the measure, including Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who led the negotiations on the GOP side. The others were Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

At least 60 votes were needed in the procedural step to get over the filibuster threshold. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who backed the bipartisan negotiations, and other top Republicans ended up voting against the bill along with a small group of Democrats.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) changed his vote to a “no” in order to immediately bring up a motion to have the Senate consider a revised package that addresses the national security priorities in the legislation without the bipartisan border agreement.

The updated measure has a price tag of roughly $95 billion. While sections for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other foreign priorities that included humanitarian aid remain intact, Afghan Allies Act provisions were dropped along with border-related sections. Amendments could be tacked on if debate is allowed to proceed.

Months of negotiations culminated in the weekend release of a bipartisan package that came together after President Joe Biden made a roughly $106 billion national security supplemental request and Senate Republicans defeated a foreign aid bill in December amid GOP calls for the United States to focus on improving U.S. border security and immigration policies.

The compromise measure included funds and reforms geared toward strengthening the asylum process and shoring up border security, but it drew backlash from a wide swath of Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, who took issue with some of its many provisions and warned the bill would give President Biden a boost in an election year. House Republicans vowed it would be “dead on arrival” in the lower chamber.

One particular aspect of the legislation that came under fire, concerning the Border Emergency Authority, led critics to say it would allow 5,000 people a day to come into the country and up to two million illegal entries a year. Lankford said the claims were untrue and insisted the provision was being misinterpreted.


“The emergency authority is not designed to let 5,000 people in, it is designed to close the border and turn 5,000 people around,” Lankford said on X. “The Border Emergency Authority only lasts 3 yrs to force this Admin to shut down the border & to give time for the next [president] to hire more agents & more officers. After three years, the emergency authority expires because we should have regained full control of our border by then.”

McConnell thanked Lankford on Wednesday for trying to hash out a compromise with Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) as well as support from the Biden administration. He also acknowledged the bill would not make it through the Senate in its current form, despite a Border Patrol union endorsement, after many of his GOP colleagues came out against it.

“The product he was able to secure earned the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council – a sign that you’re pointing in the right direction,” McConnell said. “But as our colleagues recognize, the agreement does not have a path to become law.”

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