Schumer dares GOP to vote against border bill: ‘No time for grandstanding’

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer vowed Tuesday to push ahead with a vote on the bipartisan border security deal and national security spending bill and lashed out at Republicans who are poised to tank the bill.

Mr. Schumer said Democrats negotiated in good faith with Republicans and gave them “many of the things they asked for,” but now the GOP is abandoning the effort after having had its leash yanked by former President Donald Trump.

“For more than a year, members on the other side of the aisle have been wailing that the border is an emergency situation,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat. “This morning, Republicans are singing a new tune. Suddenly this crisis is not so urgent. Suddenly we need to take more time.

“I can recognize when senators grandstand, but this is no time for grandstanding,” he said.

His anger was spurred by a Senate GOP meeting Monday in which party leaders acquiesced to growing discontent over the legislation negotiated by one of their own, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma. Amid heated criticism from conservatives and a flat rejection by House Republicans, GOP senators signaled they will filibuster the border security and Ukraine spending bill when it comes up for a vote Wednesday.

Some Republicans said the legislation is unsalvageable and needs to be defeated, but others said they had hopes of saving it as long as they could get more time to read it and to write amendments to fix parts they oppose.

Mr. Schumer said those were weak excuses.

He said he would delay a vote an extra day if that would help lawmakers digest the $118 billion, 370-page bill, which was released Sunday night. He also said the way to find out what amendments will be offered, and which ones can pass, is to defeat the initial filibuster and take up the bill.

“Senators are elected to vote not to be afraid, run away, make excuses,” he said.

The spending bill includes money for Ukraine and Israel to pursue their respective wars against Russia and Hamas, and it includes money for Pacific Rim allies to deter Chinese aggression. It also includes the border security measure, which expands the government’s deportation machinery, creates a new expulsion authority to oust illegal immigrants if the flow of people crosses certain thresholds, and stiffens standards for making asylum claims.

But Republicans said it weakens existing law by enshrining catch-and-release for migrants who show up as families with children, and shifts asylum decisions away from immigration judges and over to more lenient bureaucrats at Homeland Security.

It grants a path to citizenship to Afghans airlifted out during the chaotic 2021 U.S. troop withdrawal, but does not include citizenship rights for “Dreamers” or other long-time illegal immigrants already here. It does delay border wall construction, includes hundreds of thousands of new guest-worker passes and increases legal permanent immigration.

Republican senators who were bullish on the negotiations a couple of weeks ago now say after seeing the actual bill that it sounds tough, but contains too many loopholes that migrants — or the Biden administration — could exploit to keep the flow of people going.

They said voting for a bad bill would give them political ownership of the chaos without the success of actual improvements.

GOP senators were debating Tuesday whether the measure could be fixed through amendments or whether it needed to be shot down altogether.

“Our folks obviously wanted time to review it, but a lot of them I think have, and have come to their conclusion,” said Sen. John Thune or South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber, who announced his own opposition Tuesday.

Mr. Schumer blamed Mr. Trump for ruining the deal, saying the former president wants to preserve the “chaos at the border” to have an issue for the election.

“It seems the only date the Republicans care about is Nov. 5,” he said.

Republicans said House Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana Republican, had rejected the bill even before Mr. Trump spoke out. Without House action, senators were concerned about taking a political risk for ultimately no purpose.

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