Senate Negotiations on Border Security Package May Stall
FAIR Take | December 2023
With the Senate aiming to move the Biden Administration’s foreign aid package before Christmas break, negotiations have hit a sticking point. The package funds our efforts in Israel and Ukraine, and also includes $13.6 billion in border security funding, although the Administration plans to direct that funding to process more illegal aliens into the country and continue its open-borders agenda. For that reason, Republicans have insisted that any supplemental funding passed include real policy changes to stop the Biden Border Crisis.
Since taking office, Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas has undermined immigration enforcement and border security at every turn, leading to an unprecedented more than 8 million illegal aliens apprehended at our borders, along with more than 1.7 million “gotaways.” To stop the flood of illegal immigration, crime and narcotics entering the country, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, in May.
Following passage, however, the bill has languished in the Senate, despite more than 30 members signing on to the Senate companion bill (introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). In June, Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) attempted to amend H.R. 2 onto legislation that would increase the debt ceiling. While almost all Senate Republicans voted for the amendment, Democrats were united in rejecting it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has described H.R. 2 as “radical” legislation that encompasses “hard-right border policies.”
There have been other opportunities to stop the border crisis, but Congress has squandered those too. In recent weeks, Congress passed two Continuing Resolutions to temporarily fund the government at Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 levels, while doing nothing to secure our borders. With the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded until February 2nd, the best opportunity to fund border security measures is now the Administration’s foreign aid package. House Republican leadership has continued to advocate for strong border security measures, while a bipartisan working group has emerged in the Senate. That group, working in coordination with Senate leadership, is made up of Republicans James Lankford (R-Okla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with Democrats Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Krysten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
As those border security negotiations progressed last week, the two sides found themselves at an impasse over critical provisions to address the Biden Administration’s abuse of asylum and parole. So far, Senate Republicans are holding the line. As Leader McConnell said last week, “Border security is national security. That’s not just a statement of legislative priorities or partisan politics. It’s a fact of human history… Borders are an essential element of national security. They are not extraneous. We must secure and defend sovereign borders, beginning right here at home.”
In an interview with Fox News, Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) echoed McConnell, saying, “There’s going to have to be significant border security…The border is a clear and present danger to the security of every American, and I think every Republican and hopefully some Democrats understand that.” And Senator Tillis has said he will not support a border security package without support from at least 25 Republican senators.
For his part, though, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has attempted to characterize Republican attempts to stop illegal immigration as partisan, ignoring rising criticism from Democrat mayors across the country. However, without support from at least nine Republican senators, the supplemental budget package cannot move past procedural hurdles. With the Senate preparing to leave by December 15th, true immigration reformers in the Senate must fight now more than ever for real policy changes, like those in H.R. 2, to detain and remove illegal aliens, stop asylum abuse, and reform parole.
To learn more about the H.R. 2 and FAIR’s efforts to support strong measures to secure our borders, visit our activist toolkit here.