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Senate supplemental receives frosty reception from some members

Bill goes too far for some Democrats, falls short for many Republicans

Sens. Katie Britt of Alabama and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are among the Senate Republicans who  oppose the measure.
Sens. Katie Britt of Alabama and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are among the Senate Republicans who oppose the measure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bill that would unlock tens of billions of dollars in national security supplemental funding and overhaul U.S. immigration policy at the southern border received a frosty reception from lawmakers in both chambers and across the political spectrum on Monday, casting doubts over the legislation’s future.

The $118.3 billion package would direct some of the widest-reaching changes to U.S. border policy in years, and has garnered the support of President Joe Biden despite including provisions that would have seemed unpalatable to a Democrat-controlled White House just months ago.

But the bill goes too far for some Democrats, and falls short for many Republicans, many of whom have said they will not support the measure, despite it being perhaps the only chance in the near future to address immigration policy in a comprehensive way — something the GOP has long lobbied for — and unlock national security funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan that defense hawks desperately want.

In the Senate, at least 18 Republicans have said they will oppose the bill, and they are joined by two Democrats and one independent.

Alabama Republican Katie Britt, an appropriator and member of the Senate GOP’s extended leadership team, accused Biden of enabling the border crisis, and said the package would not stop the president from “continuing his mass migration agenda.”

Idaho Republican Jim Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, signaled that he too would not support the bill, though he did not say so explicitly.

“One illegal immigrant. That’s one too many. 5,000? Absolutely not,” Risch said on X, referring to a provision in the package that would give the administration emergency authority to shut down the border between legal points of entry if there are more than 5,000 migrant “encounters” a day, over a seven-day average.

Senate negotiators denied that provision would allow up to 5,000 migrants to enter the country per day before the border could be shut down, as some Republicans have alleged.

Republican opposition to the bill is also coming from some members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, another appropriator and a staunch defender of U.S. aid to Ukraine, said the package should be subject to robust debate and an amendment process.

But for some Democrats, too, the legislation is a non-starter.

Alex Padilla of California, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement that the deal “misses the mark,” and returns the U.S. to Trump-era immigration policies.

And Bob Menendez of New Jersey called the deal “unacceptable.”

Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, one of the Senate’s most progressive lawmakers, said he opposes the package over its inclusion of Israel aid.

“For the sake of the Palestinian people and our own standing in the world we must not provide another dollar for the Netanyahu war machine,” Sanders said in a statement.

The Senate is expected to take the first procedural vote on the legislation on Wednesday. It will need 60 votes to pass that initial hurdle, which will likely be a bellwether for the package’s fate in the chamber, at least in its current incarnation.

But even if the bill garners enough Senate support in its current form to pass and be sent to the House, a hostile reception awaits it there.

House Republican leaders Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York released a joint statement on Monday in which they encouraged the Senate to reject the deal.

“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is DEAD on arrival in the House,” they said.

Briana Reilly and David Lerman contributed to this report.

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