Senate Reintroduces Border Reform Bill

Senator Lankford (R-OK) has been candid in expressing his disappointment in many Republican colleagues for, he feels, prioritizing political considerations over practical ones in blocking the border reform bill back in February. Now, three and a half months later, Sen. Lankford is calling out Democrats for also playing politics with the bill.

Monday, May 20th 2024, 5:21 pm



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Democratic leaders in the United States Senate are reportedly planning to take another shot at passing the bipartisan border security bill that Republicans killed earlier this year -- but this time the measure will be considered as a standalone bill, and it will not have the support of the Republican who helped negotiate it: Oklahoma Senator James Lankford.

Senator Lankford (R-OK) has been candid in expressing his disappointment in many Republican colleagues for, he feels, prioritizing political considerations over practical ones in blocking the border reform bill back in February. Now, three and a half months later, Sen. Lankford is calling out Democrats for also playing politics with the bill.

"The American people expect us to actually solve this, not just do politics on it," Lankford told his Senate colleagues on the floor last Thursday.

The politics of immigration has perhaps never been more poisonous as it is now. The border security deal Lankford, on behalf of his GOP conference, spent four months negotiating with Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy and Arizona Independent Kyrsten Sinema, was ultimately undermined by the GOP at the 11th hour.

"There's one answer for why that happened," Sen. Murphy (D-CT) told reporters last week, "Donald Trump told the Republican party that he would be better off this November if the border was a mess."

But Republicans, including Lankford, say it was Biden who created the mess and that he could clean much of it up on his own, without Congress doing anything.

"If President Biden would enforce the border the same way President Obama did, much less the same way President Trump did," Lankford said on the Senate floor, "the border would be very different."

As it is, several thousand migrants continue to enter the country unlawfully each day, far more than the system is able to handle. Lankford said 5,500 had crossed illegally on Wednesday.

"Some are coming to join family, some are coming to be able to find a job," Lankford allowed. "but some are no doubt also coming for nefarious purposes...and we can't tell the difference."

With polls showing most Americans blame the Biden administration for the migrant crisis, Democrats hope to shift the blame, if only fractionally, by bringing the border reform legislation back to the floor. In February, the asylum reforms were part of a much larger package of proposed aid to Israel and Ukraine. Those were subsequently passed by Congress on their own, and now Sen. Schumer says he hopes to do the same with the bipartisan border bill.

But Lankford says, it's clear that it won't pass in the Senate, where even some Democrats are likely to oppose it, much less have any chance of passing the Republican-controlled House. He says, just as H.R.2, the border measure passed by Republicans in the House, was essentially a 'message' bill, so is this effort by Senate Democrats.

"So, instead of us pointing at each other and doing political stunts," concluded Lankford, "let's solve this. Let's actually sit down and figure out how we're going to resolve it."

Senator Lankford says he has no intention of giving up on immigration reform. despite the obstacles that stand in the way. But the last time Congress passed meaningful reforms to the system was in 1996.

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