WASHINGTON, D.C. — After months of meetings and negotiations, senators have finally unveiled a nearly 400-page legislative package to address the southern border and foreign aid.
The bipartisan deal, announced and unveiled Sunday, faces a tough uphill battle to get through both chambers of Congress.
The $118 billion legislative package not only includes policy changes and funding for the southern border, but it also includes funding for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific and humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza.
$60 billion is outlined for Ukraine to help with its ongoing war with Russia, $14.1 billion would support Israel in security assistance and roughly $20 billion would head to the border for operational needs. The border funding includes financing for new policies, more border agents and more officers to evaluate asylum claims.
Senate negotiators and those who support the package said it contains some of the most substantive policy changes for the border in decades, and that it promotes tougher and quicker enforcement measures.
Neither side got everything they wanted. Senators who led the negotiations said that’s a sign of a good compromise.
One of the big takeaways from the 370-page bill text is that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to shut down the border and turn away anyone who crosses after 8,500 encounters in a single day or at a seven-day rolling average of 5,000 encounters per day. In either scenario, no new asylum claims would be allowed and anybody crossing would be removed.
“I am proud Leader McConnell and I, who disagree on many issues, have never worked so closely together on legislation as we did on this, because we both realized the gravity of the situation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY).
“If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R- LA).
House Republican leadership opposes the package because they said it “it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration.” Among its flaws, they said, the bill also “expands work authorizations for illegal aliens while failing to include critical asylum reforms. Even worse, its language allowing illegals to be ‘released from physical custody’ would effectively endorse the Biden ‘catch and release’ policy,” said Speaker Johnson in a joint statement with Rep. Steve Scalise (R- LA) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R- NY).
Additional House Republicans are echoing similar remarks, voicing opposition to the bill.
“The Senate amnesty bill is a continuation of Biden’s open border policies, and it will only encourage the chaos and lawlessness at our southern border,” said Rep. Nick Langworthy (R- NY) on “X” formerly known as Twitter. “If the Senate is serious about border control, it should take up H.R.2, a comprehensive bill passed by the House last May,” he added.
“The Senate’s proposal is more of a foreign aid package than a border security package with half of the funding earmarked for Ukraine, not for our borders,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R- PA) in a statement Monday. “On day one in office, President Biden reversed Trump-era policies that left our borders wide open. Now, under this legislation, as many as 1.8 million illegal immigrants could enter the United States each year before the border would shut down. That’s completely unacceptable,” Kelly added.
Many immigration activists and progressive lawmakers also condemn the package and call it a return to Trump-era immigration policies.
President Joe Biden supports the package and said it’s the “toughest and fairest in decades.”