Skip to content

Schumer plans vote on border security bill that GOP blocked

Support for deal Biden called toughest ever cratered after Trump opposed it

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., circulated a letter to colleagues about the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., circulated a letter to colleagues about the bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate will take another vote Thursday on border security and immigration legislation that Republicans blocked in February when it was part of a larger package that also included aid to Israel and Ukraine, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Monday.

Republicans quickly panned the idea, however, with the House speaker saying it would be dead on arrival if approved.

“All those who say we need to act on the border will get a chance this week to show they’re serious about fixing the problem,” Schumer said in announcing he would file cloture to set up a vote before the Senate takes a Memorial Day recess week.

In a letter to senators on Sunday, Schumer, D-N.Y., referenced the bipartisan work on the original deal, which was torpedoed when former President Donald Trump expressed opposition. That came after the lead negotiators — Sens. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. — worked through weekends and recesses to reach a compromise.

“The bill we will vote on this Thursday reforms asylum, boosts staffing at the border, cracks down on drugs like fentanyl, and gives emergency power to shut the border when crossings meet a certain threshold,” Schumer said. “It should be good enough to win the support of Senate Republicans.”

The stand-alone version, sponsored by Murphy, was put on the calendar on May 16 and it would take 60 votes to advance a motion to proceed with debate on it.

Murphy telegraphed that the effort to get another vote may be just another doomed procedural move.

“This bill makes commonsense changes to our broken asylum system and gives the president new tools to better manage the border. But the first time we voted on this bipartisan bill, Republicans decided that maintaining chaos at the border in order to help Donald Trump’s election prospects is more important than border security,” Murphy said in a floor speech Thursday.

The move comes during an election year in which Republicans have made border security a top issue, and Democrats have signaled that they want to force votes to challenge Republicans’ commitment to solutions.

The White House applauded the move, and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Monday that senators should put “partisan politics aside and vote to secure the border.”

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., however, accused Schumer in a statement of “trying give his vulnerable members cover by bringing a vote on a bill which has already failed once in the Senate because it would actually codify many of the disastrous Biden open border policies that created this crisis in the first place.

“Should it reach the House,” Johnson said, “the bill would be dead on arrival.”

Lankford, the top Senate GOP negotiator, nodded in agreement during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech in March when the president was being jeered for saying the bipartisan deal included the “toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen.” But he also issued a statement afterward criticizing Biden for not doing more unilaterally to stop migrants, and panned the latest efforts by the Democrats even before Schumer sent the letter to colleagues.

“Listen, if we’re going to solve the border issues, it’s not going to by doing competing messaging bills. If we’re going to solve this, let’s sit down like adults and let’s figure out how we’re going to actually resolve this together,” Lankford said Thursday on the floor. “If there’s a messaging bill comeback, even the bill I helped negotiate, next week, just to bring it up again and try to poke Republicans in the eye for some sort of messaging piece, why are we doing this?”

Lankford referenced Democratic messaging about making border security a campaign issue after Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., flipped a seat in a special election a week after the bipartisan deal was rejected in February.

“Suozzi argued for bipartisan solutions, didn’t let Republican lies go unanswered, and wasn’t afraid to engage with voters on this important issue — and in doing so left a blueprint in place for beating House Republicans by making it clear to voters that only one party is serious when it comes to finding solutions to secure the border,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a May 10 memo.

Still, partisans on both sides seem to believe that immigration policy and border security will ultimately work in their favor, as evidenced by the National Republican Congressional Committee highlighting the Democratic memo.

House Majority PAC, a super PAC that works to elect Democrats, used the issue to take aim at vulnerable Republicans. In a statement Monday afternoon, HMP press secretary Alisha Heng said Republicans have prioritized “scoring political points in a desperate attempt to improve their shoddy electoral chances instead of doing their jobs, and it will not go unnoticed by Americans in November.”

John T. Bennett and Daniela Altimari contributed to this report.

Recent Stories

At Aspen conference, a call to prioritize stopping gun violence

Appeals court rules preventive care task force unconstitutional

Key players return to Congressional Softball Game, this time at the microphone

Bannon asks Supreme Court to keep him out of prison

Her family saw the horrors of the Holocaust. Now Rep. Becca Balint seeks to ‘hold this space’

Supreme Court clarifies when a gun law is constitutional