Washington — Despite Republican and Democratic opposition, the Senate will vote next week on legislation that would mix tougher southern border measures with military aid for Ukraine and other American allies.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will call a national security package test vote on Wednesday. Some Republicans opposed the deadline and others would not accept the border policy adjustments, therefore the bill's future was questionable. “Our southern border is in urgent need, in urgent need, of fixing,” Schumer said in a floor speech.
The text of a Senate measure to restructure the U.S. asylum system with stronger and faster enforcement and deliver tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, Israel, and other Asian allies is anticipated in the coming days. After weeks of negotiations, Republicans have pressured negotiators to reveal the bill's provisions, irritated they haven't seen it and cautious of compromising on border security.
The Senate compromise may be President Joe Biden's best chance to solve a southern border with record numbers of asylum seekers and fulfill one of his main foreign policy goals—defending Ukraine against Russia. Republican support, notably House Speaker Mike Johnson, was questionable as the Senate prepared to vote next week.
We’ll see. As he attended a Capitol prayer breakfast with Johnson Thursday morning, Biden assured reporters, "I will try." Many Senate Republicans have opposed the plan until they can see its provisions. Their opponents include presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has termed the ideas insufficient to stop illegal immigration.
Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the senior Republican negotiator, has spent weeks persuading his colleagues that the idea is the GOP's greatest chance in decades to curb illegal immigration, a key campaign topic. He believed publicizing the bill would reduce conservative and activist criticism.
“I’ve explained it a lot, but people just need to read the text,” Lankford told reporters. “They hear it, then read the internet and decide whether to believe me or the internet. So they saw the text.” Trump and Johnson, the House speaker, have criticized the bill's biggest compromise: an expulsion power that would automatically activate on days with more than 5,000 illegal crossings across the Southern border over five days. They claim it enables 5,000 migrants to cross everyday.
Lankford and Arizona independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who wrote the bill, deny that. They said the expulsion authority is only meant to prevent authorities from being overwhelmed with asylum seekers and that migrants seeking asylum will face tougher initial interview standards and a fast-track system that grants or deports them.
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