Ukraine-border bill on life support as pro-Trump Republicans and progressives come out against it

Ukraine-border bill on life support as pro-Trump Republicans and progressives come out against it

Conservative Republicans came out staunchly against a bipartisan agreement to restrict immigration and put in place additional border security resources in exchange for aid to Ukraine and Israel on Monday.

House Republican leadership – including House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik – put out a joint statement saying the bill was “DEAD on arrival.”

Mr Johnson criticised the process late on Monday evening, saying that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell excluded House Republicans.

“I said ‘it would be nice if we were in the room,’” he told reporters. “It would be nice if we had a say in what ultimately that product would look like. We might have been able to head this mess off at the pass if the House had had its way and if we worked through that process. But what they produced for us right now really isn’t a border security bill. It’s an immigration bill.”

The agreement – negotiated by Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma and Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut – dropped on Sunday evening. The legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to “shut down” the US-Mexico border when it records an average of 5,000 migrants crossing per day for a week.

Not just Republicans are coming out against the proposed immigration reform — Representative Delia Ramirez, a progressive Democrat from Chicago, Illinois, told The Independent the bill would set the US back “100 years on immigration policy.”

Senator Alex Padilla of California criticised the fact that no Latino Democrats were included in the process.

“I think it was a missed opportunity to have some more thoughtful perspectives at the table,” he told The Independent. “So, I’m not surprised at the result.”

It would also include $650m for a border wall; curb the “catch and release” practice wherein border officials release migrants into the United States while they await court dates; and take measures to streamline the asylum process.

But former president Donald Trump, who will likely be the Republican presidential nominee in November, came out against the bill on Monday.

“The ridiculous ‘Border’ Bill is nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election,” he said on Truth Social. “Don’t fall for it!!!

Republican senator JD Vance for his part said that he did not approve of the legislation giving Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wide discretion in determining who receives asylum outside of the standard immigration court proceeding.

“I don't know why that needs to be there,” he told The Independent. “I certainly don't know what it has to do with border security.”

Mr Murphy criticised Mr Johnson’s opposition to the legislation, saying he did so out of fear.

“Well, we obviously knew there were going to be a lot of Republicans who are going to listen to Donald Trump and prioritize keeping chaos at the border,” he told The Independent. “Speaker Johnson doesn’t want to have this bill in front of the House and he knows that if this bill comes out of the Senate with a bipartisan majority, it’ll put a lot of pressure on him to call it up.”

But Republicans criticised the legislation for its inability to completely stop illegal immigration from the southern border. Almost as soon as the text dropped, they came out staunchly against the bill.

“Well, I think number one is that Joe Biden can secure the border right now if he wanted to, but he has the legal authority to do that,” Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas told The Independent. “Unfortunately, this bill is even worse than I was hoping for. I think it does nothing to approve asylum, it may even make it worse.”

On the House side, Republicans roundly criticised the legislation. Congressman Tim Burchett of Tennessee specifically said he did not approve of the emergency authority.

“What part of 5,000 illegal aliens coming into our border is a good thing?” he told The Independent.

“This mass, massive mass amnesty is what it is,” Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina told The Independent. “It’s bulls***.”

President Joe Biden praised the bill on Sunday evening, calling it the “toughest and fairest” border reform legislation in “decades” and urged Congress to pass it.

Throughout the day, more and more Republicans from varying factions appeared to come out against the legislation despite the fact Mr McConnell authorised the legislation.

“I am very disappointed that so many of our members came out as hard No.” Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa told The Independent. “And I wish we had given James the benefit of the doubt to take a look at the text before we started speaking or opposition.”

Democrats for their part criticised Republican stonewalling.

“We should damn well debate it,” Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who is seeking re-election, told The Independent. “I think it’s a bit disingenuous to say, hey, this is what we want, and when they get it, they turn around and say now we want to play politics with it.”

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia praised the negotiation process but criticised Republicans for pushing for border security measures only to oppose the legislation.

Members of the progressive “Squad” in the House have also rejected the bill, standing against the White House on the matter.

When asked what her top concerns about the bill were, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said, “all of it.” The progressive Democrat also told The Independent she doesn’t believe the bill will even make it to a Senate vote.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another Squad member and progressive Democratic representative from New York, told The Independent the bill fails on both process and policy.

“We are in a lot of ways contributing to an even worsening border crisis with this bill,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said. “We know that expanding paths to documentation and citizenship is actually what reduces a lot of people surrendering a border at ports of entry.”

The legislation would require clearing the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster, which looked increasingly remote throughout the day.

“We’re working through it,” Senator Deb Fischer, a Republican from Nebraska told The Independent.

Minutes later, her X account put out a statement saying she opposed the bill.