Schumer Pushes Ahead with Border Bill Vote Despite Opposition from Senate Progressives


An unsuccessful bipartisan border security bill is poised to garner even less support when Democrats reintroduce it for a Senate vote later this week.

Most Republicans are set against it, and several progressive Democrats remain opposed to the bill that previously failed in February after being linked to a foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) expressed disappointment with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for scheduling a second vote without modifications for citizenship pathways, as Democrats aim to press Republicans on a divisive policy matter during an election year.

“I certainly hope this is not the new starting point for Democrats when it comes to border or immigration negotiations,” Padilla told the Truth Voices. “We’ve already voted on it, and it’s already gone down. Time for a new plan.”

The measure, a product of months of bipartisan negotiations, focuses on limiting illegal immigration and increasing deportations but does not include protections for “Dreamers,” individuals who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

“This is a price that a lot of my Democratic colleagues were willing to pay months ago in order to ensure we delivered funding to Ukraine. That’s been done,” Padilla noted.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) plans to oppose the legislation, having initially supported it, because it excludes legal pathways and would fail to address “the root causes of regional migration” and illegal crossings. In a statement, he criticized Republicans for their prior opposition, calling it “the height of hypocrisy.”

“I remain committed to pursuing common sense, bipartisan legislation to modernize our immigration system so that it aligns with our most fundamental values,” Booker stated.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said she would reject the bill again when it comes to a vote on Thursday.

“We need border security and a pathway to citizenship for people who are here. The two should be tied,” Warren told the Truth Voices. “That’s what my vote reflects.”

The bill’s February vote ended 49-50 but required 60 senators to pass. Five members of the Democratic caucus voted against it, including Padilla, Warren, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Ed Markey (D-MA). Only four Republicans voted in favour: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and James Lankford (R-OK).

Sanders told the Truth Voices he was undecided on his vote this week but his previous opposition was due to the military aid to Israel that was attached.

Schumer suggested that the border security bill with prior bipartisan support would be easier to achieve than measures advocated by progressives to expand legal citizenship.

Lankford, the bill’s main Republican architect, told Truth Voices last week he would vote against what he described as Democrats’ “nonserious” effort to pass stronger border security. McConnell will also oppose.

Collins criticized Democrats’ handling of the issue but remained “uncertain” about how she’ll vote.

“It’s clearly just a messaging ploy by the Democrats, which is unfortunate because we have a real problem,” Collins told Truth Voices.

Despite its bleak prospects and potential for an even worse outcome on the Senate floor, Schumer is proceeding.

“All those who say we need to act on the border will get a chance to show this week that they’re serious about fixing the problem,” Schumer told reporters. “They’ll get a chance to show whether they’re just talking points to them or whether they want to improve the status quo.”

President Joe Biden phoned McConnell and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) on Monday regarding the legislation, urging Republicans to “stop playing politics and act quickly,” according to the White House.

McConnell and his deputies reiterated the primary Republican response: Biden could take executive action to curb the illegal immigration crisis at any time.

“Mr. President, you caused this problem. If there’s no legislation that allowed the problem to be fixed, why don’t you just renew what the previous admin was doing, which got the border in decent shape?” McConnell told reporters. “Going to a border bill right now is just a gimmick, a way to try to convince the American people they’re concerned about this when they caused it.”

David Sivak contributed to this report.

Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry is a Capitol Hill Reporter focusing on energy and environment. Previously, Ramsey covered Congress for Newsweek and was a multimedia reporter at a local NPR and PBS affiliate in Florida. A native of the Sunshine State, Ramsey graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism.

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