More than a dozen GOP senators oppose the bipartisan “emergency authority” border bill, part of the White House’s national security request, as one of the provisions in the bill grants President Biden the power to effectively nullify the law.
According to the text, the bill gives the president the power to direct the secretary of Homeland Security to “temporarily suspend” the border emergency authority on an emergency basis. For example, if Biden doesn’t want to shut down the border, but Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas does, Biden can suspend its enforcement for a 45-day period.
The legislation will need a 60-vote threshold to pass, and Republican lawmakers urged leaders to give them more time to offer amendments. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week the Senate could begin voting on it as soon as Wednesday.
“Senate GOP leadership screwed this up—and screwed us. Even while refusing to let us see the bill they claimed to be negotiating on our behalf—for MONTHS—they were never in doubt, insisting we’d be dumb and even unpatriotic NOT to support it. This is a disqualifying betrayal,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, posted to X.
“Biden can say anything is in the ‘national interest’ and thereby suspend the ‘border emergency authority,'” Lee said. “Don’t pretend to be surprised when he does.Or better yet—don’t pass this hot mess!”
According to the bill, the secretary of Homeland Security is involved in the identity verification process of migrants crossing the border and must ensure the migrant’s identity is checked against all appropriate records and databases. If a migrant attains asylum, they’ll immediately be given a work visa.
“I’ve reviewed the bill, I don’t think it will solve our border crisis, and might make it worse. I will oppose it,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., posted to X on Monday. “The bill gives Secretary Mayorkas the right—for the first time—to grant asylum claims (and thus American citizenship) to illegal aliens at the border without review by the immigration courts, which will be a massive pathway to rubber-stamping amnesty.”
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., called the bill “another Ukraine aid package that weakly addresses Biden’s border crisis.”
“I will be a ‘No’ vote,” he wrote on X.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-FLa., also opposes the bill, highlighting a provision that Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., considers a victory: taxpayer-funded legal representation for illegal immigrants.
“This looks more like an immigration bill, not a border security bill,” Scott said.
Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., criticized another portion of the bill that “includes an eye-popping $1.4B for NGOs to resettle illegal aliens in your communities via airplane tickets and hotel rooms (nearly double the record amount from FY23), including $933M available immediately without conditions.”
“This is more of our tax dollars being used to buy off Democrat sanctuary city mayors. This is the ‘border security’ Democrats really want,” Hagerty said.
This particular provision would transfer $1,400,000,000 to the “Federal Emergency Management Agency – Federal Assistance” for supporting sheltering for illegal migrants provided by non-federal entities through the Shelter and Services Program.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., — chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — also said he would vote “no” on the bill.
“I can’t support a bill that doesn’t secure the border, provides taxpayer-funded lawyers to illegal immigrants and gives billions to radical open borders groups. I’m a no,” he said.
Other Republican lawmakers opposing the bill so far include Sens. Josh Hawley, Tommy Tuberville, Ron Johnson, Marsha Blackburn, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Roger Marshall and JD Vance.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Schumer, and lead Republican negotiator Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., hope to get the bill across the finish line.
“The border security bill will put a huge number of new enforcement tools in the hands of a future administration and push the current Administration to finally stop the illegal flow. The bill provides funding to build the wall, increase technology at the border, and add more detention beds, more agents, and more deportation flights. The border security bill ends the abuse of parole on our southwest border that has waived in over a million people,” Lankford said in a statement.
McConnell said the legislation will bring “direct and immediate solutions” to the crisis at the southern border. But in the lower chamber, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has continually called the bill “dead-on-arrival.”
The proposed legislation, released Sunday evening after months of negotiations, will total just over $118 billion, with 50,000 new visas. Biden’s original request amounted to around $106 billion.
The emergency border proposal is aimed at gaining control of an overrun asylum system that has been overwhelmed by historic numbers of migrants illegally crossing the border. The bill proposes an overhaul to the system with tougher and quicker enforcement measures.
At least 1.5 million illegal immigrants identified as “gotaways” crossed the border under the Biden administration, according to a 2023 report.
The bill’s provisions come into effect when there is an average of 5,000 or more daily encounters with illegal immigrants over a seven-day period or, alternatively, when a combined total of 8,500 or more aliens are encountered on any single calendar day. The calculation considers encounters at southwest land border ports, ports along southern coastal borders, and at a southwest land border port of entry.
However, the bill states that if the president “finds that it is in the national interest to temporarily suspend the border emergency authority, the President may direct the Secretary to suspend use of the border emergency authority on an emergency basis.” Essentially, the “border emergency” triggered at 5,000 crossings per day within a week can be overturned by President Biden.
The bill would allot $20 billion to immigration enforcement, including the hiring of thousands of new officers to evaluate asylum claims, as well as hundreds of Border Patrol agents. Some of that money would go to shelters and services in cities across the U.S. that have struggled to keep up with the influx of migrants in recent months.
Migrants who seek asylum, which provides protection for people facing persecution in their home countries, would face a tougher and faster process for having their claim evaluated. The standard in initial interviews, known as credible fear screenings, would be raised, and many would receive those interviews within days of arriving at the border. Final decisions on their asylum claims would happen within months, rather than the often years-long wait that happens now.