Border deal details: Trump, Biden and GOP lawmakers gear up for fight – USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – A group of bipartisan senators revealed a sweeping proposal on Sunday to target America’s southern border and provide pivotal foreign aid. Lawmakers crafted the deal for months, only to have it panned by members of both parties within hours.
The agreement would vastly expand detention at the border and speed up humanitarian asylum programs. It would also make it harder for people to qualify for asylum and fill out the border wall, among other massive changes.
The legislation, forged by a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers, would create a pathway to citizenship for “documented Dreamers,” or children who first came to the U.S. with their parents under a work visa. The border proposals are paired with billions in funding for Ukraine, Israel and other American allies.
The deal has the backing of President Joe Biden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, R-N.Y., and, to date, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. On the other hand, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and former President Donald Trump have openly rejected the bill, and a growing number of Republicans are joining them.
That dynamic flips the script on traditional border debates: The potential deal includes many conservative immigration priorities and lacks a slate of Democratic demands. But any path forward would require moderates in both parties, though it’s not clear they’ll throw their support behind the deal.
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Here are three key takeaways on the expansive border agreement with a murky future.
Both Trump and Biden have an interest in where this bill goes. More than 60% of voters in key swing states say Biden is at least somewhat responsible for the surge in migrants at the southern border, according to a recent poll from Bloomberg News and Morning Consult.
And Trump lobbied Republican members of Congress to oppose the border proposal long before they actually had the text of the bill. He repeated his opposition in a post on Truth Social Monday morning, saying “only a fool, or a radical left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous border bill.”
Trump has made it clear he plans to make immigration a central platform for his 2024 reelection bid. Some House Republicans have argued they should reject the Senate’s bill to avoid giving Biden a political win in a competitive election year. Nevertheless, Johnson told reporters last week it’s “absurd” to suggest Republicans want to kill the bill to help Trump’s campaign.
The White House has seized on that dynamic, arguing Republicans should support the package if they truly believe the border crisis is an emergency.
“House Republicans have to decide. Do they want to solve the problem? Or do they want to keep playing politics with the border?” Biden said in a statement Sunday. “I’ve made my decision. I’m ready to solve the problem.”
Despite the months of work that went into crafting the agreement, its path to becoming law is in doubt. All of the top Republicans in the House quickly came out against the bill Sunday evening and hammered home their opposition Monday.
“It fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration,” Johnson said in a joint statement with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La. Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.
They again said Biden has the authority to “end the border catastrophe” on his own and demanded the Senate take up the hardline border bill that passed in the House known as H.R. 2.
“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is DEAD on arrival in the House. We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it,” the Republican leaders said.
A group of conservative senators this week also pledged to oppose the bill, including several who initially said they would reserve judgment until they saw the full text.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he has “questions and serious concerns” with the agreement. Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines, R-Mont., said it “provides no guarantee” that Biden will enforce the nation’s law and “makes no sense to even bring it up in the Senate” because of its uphill climb in the House.
Biden and Schumer are still bullish about the border proposal. Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday that “many on the hard-right are turning their back on this package.”
But it’s not just Republicans who are iffy on the deal: Many Democrats are raising concerns that the legislation is too harsh and wouldn’t address the root problems within the country’s immigration system.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said the package creates “unrealistic standards and timelines” for asylum and includes provisions some Democrats would never support..
“There is no question that we need significant changes to our immigration reform,” she said in a statement. “However, this proposal includes none of the thoughtful reforms to do that or to actually address the situation at the border in a humane way.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has also pushed back on Biden’s calling the proposal “fair” and said it instead has “the potential to make matters worse.”
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., a member of the CHC, said in a statement Sunday night that the negotiations did not include “a single-border state Democrat or a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”
“It is no surprise that this border deal misses the mark,” he said. “The deal includes a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less.”