Bipartisan Agreement For Bill On Border Security, Immigration Reform At Risk Of Being Tabled

The exhaustive and exhausting effort being made by a small group of United States Senators to reach a bipartisan agreement on border security and immigration reform is at increasing risk of being scuttled before a deal is even finalized.

Wednesday, January 24th 2024, 5:36 pm



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The exhaustive and exhausting effort being made by a small group of United States Senators to reach a bipartisan agreement on border security and immigration reform is at increasing risk of being scuttled before a deal is even finalized.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford is the lead Republican negotiator on the border deal, which ultimately would be part of a larger supplemental aid package that the White House and Democrats badly want approved.

Lankford and the group’s efforts have faced plenty of pushback from the more conservative Republicans in the House and on Wednesday skepticism among Lankford's colleagues in the Senate escalated to a new level.

"This supplemental bill," declared Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), "is a kamikaze plane in a box canyon with no exit, headed for a train wreck."

Cruz and the six other Senators who participated in a press conference Wednesday afternoon are convinced the legislation Senator Lankford has spent more than three months working daily on will not make the U.S.-Mexico border more secure.

"From what I’m hearing, this could cause as many problems as it solves," said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) "and there’s a risk of it creating some much bigger problems that we don’t even have right now."

Lee didn't offer specifics of what those 'bigger' problems might be, but he and the others say the bits and pieces they're hearing about suggest a deal that would allow as many as 5,000 migrants to enter the country daily. They say, under President Trump, border crossings were at their lowest level in four decades, and he didn't need a new law to achieve that.

They say, with a second Trump presidency possibly on the horizon, it makes little sense to move forward with the legislation being contemplated.

"Trump was able to secure the border with the existing laws," said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), "let’s make sure we don’t pass something that makes it harder for him to do that."

The group admits its concerns are based mostly on what they're hearing about the bill, not what they've been able to read. But that raises another concern: why haven't they been allowed to see the text yet?

"If this is such a good bill," Sen. Scott said, "then why don’t you give it to us and, as you negotiate it, we'll give you our thoughts?"

"Everyone wants to be able to read the bill," said Sen. Lankford in an interview Tuesday.

Lankford is more than aware of the grumblings of certain members of the Senate Republican conference. He indicated he understands their concerns, but said they will have time to read through it.

"We hope to get the text out as fast as possible," Lankford (R-OK) said, "and allow people to be able to read it and review it, so we can move from something that 'needs to be done about the border' to actually doing something about the border."

The Senators all agreed that Lankford is doing the best he can, but they say he's been prevented by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell from insisting on certain conditions they want, like making aid to Ukraine conditional.

"We wanted to have something in there that would say, okay, if the numbers don’t come down, the monthly Ukraine aid doesn’t go there," explained Sen. Scott. "Mitch McConnell said 'Nope, we’re not going to have that in there.' It's not in there."

The Senators said McConnell is 'stage managing' the negotiation and not getting the opinion of the full conference in deciding what the parameters are.

Senator Lankford has not yet responded to a request to confirm or deny the allegation.

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