Republican Split Sinks Border Security Legislation for Second Time

The Senate rejected a border security package on Thursday for the second time, following pressure from former President Donald Trump, who didn’t want to give President Joe Biden an election-year win. The bill, originally drafted by Republicans in February, was opposed by all but one GOP senator, Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), and several progressive Democrats.

The legislation aimed to grant the president new emergency powers to restrict border crossings if migrant encounters reached a certain level, tighten asylum standards, expedite asylum processing, and increase funding for border patrol agents.

GOP senators accused Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of using the bill for political gain, claiming it was intended to boost vulnerable Democratic incumbents. “This bill today is a prop, a pure messaging vote and a fundraising piece for Democrats,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said on Newsmax. Lankford had helped negotiate the bill earlier this year but voted against it on Thursday.

Democrats criticized Republicans for abandoning bipartisan efforts to address the border crisis. “It would have gotten done had Donald Trump not said, ‘I don’t want this done, blame it on me, I want chaos at the border so I can win reelection,'” Schumer said ahead of the vote.

The border situation has become a top concern for voters, affecting Biden’s approval ratings. Democrats hope to counter Republican attacks by highlighting GOP obstruction to reforms. The White House is considering executive orders to manage the migrant influx, but significant action requires legislation.

Next month, Senate Democrats plan to vote on protecting abortion rights and contraceptives, but these measures are also expected to fail. The Senate is in election mode, with little chance of substantial legislation passing before November.

Several Democrats who supported the border bill in February, when it was linked to aid for Ukraine and Israel, opposed it as a standalone measure on Thursday. The new bill lacked pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which had been a key issue for Democrats in past immigration bills.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) criticized the bill for excluding people fleeing violence and persecution from seeking asylum. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) also opposed the bill, saying it should not be the starting point for immigration negotiations.

Murkowski expressed frustration with the political maneuvering, calling the situation “dumb.” She criticized both parties for using the bill as a political tool rather than addressing the border issue. “Explain what’s going on to somebody who is not part of this building. They think we’re nuts. They’re like, can you just fix the border?” Murkowski said.