Wyoming’s U.S. senators say they are not voting for the controversial $118 billion immigration bill that would allocate most of its funding to international war and humanitarian causes rather than border security.
Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican and Wyoming’s senior delegate to the Senate, said the bill “does not meet most Americans’ standard of securing our border now,” and that he cannot vote for it.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, also Republican, agreed, noting she will not vote in favor of the bill either.
She said Biden could take action even without the bill by closing the border, building the wall and reinstating the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy.
“This administration saying it cannot enforce existing laws is a bold-faced lie,” said Lummis, adding that the bill contains millions in wasteful spending, including funding lawyers for illegal aliens.
“At a time when our national debt is $34 trillion, we cannot continue irresponsibly printing money and adding to our deficit,” said Lummis. “On behalf of all Wyoming families, I implore President Biden to use the ample authority at his disposal to address this crisis at our southern border immediately.”
‘Turning Point In America’
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, told MSNBC the bill marks a “turning point” for America, and Republicans must “rise to the occasion” to pass it.
“History is going to look over our shoulders and say, ‘Did we rise to the occasion?’” said Schumer.
He praised the bill’s war aid to Ukraine and Israel, and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, saying the people there would starve without the aid.
“Too many Republicans are just scared to death of Donald Trump,” said Schumer. “Trump has said he wants chaos.”
The bill faces a preliminary Senate vote Wednesday requiring 60 votes to pass, but is facing rejection from the U.S. House, where Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson called it “dead on arrival.”
Barrasso praised his Republican colleague, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, who negotiated the bill for months along with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent from Arizona, and Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut. Barrasso said Lankford worked relentlessly to change the course of the illegal immigration influx, but that "Joe Biden and Senate Democrats failed him and failed the country."
Barrasso said Biden has “fought against every attempt to protect Americans from the crisis at the Southern border.”
Illegal border crossings have skyrocketed under Biden’s presidency, totaling 8.8 million illegal crossings in the past three years, Barrasso noted.
So Trump Can Win?
The bill’s emergence coincides with heightening tension between Texas and Biden’s administration. The U.S. Supreme Court lifted a lower court’s injunction last month that had stopped Biden’s administration from cutting razor wire fences Texas erected to curb illegal border crossings.
Texas then pledged to continue its efforts and raised even more border wire.
Meanwhile, Huffpost reported via an anonymous source Jan. 24 that former President Donald Trump met privately with Senate Republicans to pressure them to “kill” the border bill to inflame the immigration issue, so Trump would be likelier to win the November general election as the tough-on-immigration candidate.
Trump countered in a Monday post to Truth Social, saying his issue with the bill is its wording.
He pointed to the bill mandating shutdown authority only after agents reach 5,000 encounters with illegal immigrants a day, “when we already have the right to CLOSE THE BORDER NOW.”
He said Congress should craft a new immigration bill that is not tied to foreign aid in any way.
Billions For Gaza
Unveiled Sunday night, the bill would allocate $20.23 billion for border security to address the immigration influx at the Southern border.
It also would send $60.6 billion in war funding to Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $2.44 billion to U.S. Central Command and the conflict in the Red Sea, and $4.83 billion to support U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific to defend against Chinese aggression, Reuters reported.
The bill proposes to send $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for civilians in war zones like Ukraine, Gaza and the West Bank.
It would provide $3 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development and $7 million for the Department of State for watchdog programs – to give report to Congress if Hamas or other extremist groups get ahold of the billions of dollars in humanitarian aid.
Those reports can be classified if necessary, says the bill.
Israel believes Hamas still has 136 hostages from its Oct. 7 terror attack on the Jewish state. But at least 32 of those — nearly a quarter — are dead, the Israeli Defensive Forces reported this week.
If the bill passes, the humanitarian aid for Gazans would not go through a usual channel, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The group, designed to provide for Palestinians who fled Israel amid Arab-Israel conflict in 1948, still funnels vast sums into the communities of those refugees’ descendants.
News reports surfaced last month indicating numerous UNRWA workers were involved in or supportive of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.
New Executive-Branch Authority
The immigration bill proposes new emergency border powers.
The bill would give the secretary of homeland security the power to declare an emergency at the Southern border to deny migrant entry — except for unaccompanied minors, victims of humanitarian ills and some other exceptions — if there were an average of 4,000 or more migrants encountered daily at the border for a week, ABC News reported.
If migrant encounters averaged 5,000 or more daily for a week, the secretary would be required to declare such an emergency.
Some Republicans called the bill’s many exceptions “loopholes.”
The bill also would require the secretary to suspend any border emergency once migrant encounters dropped to less than 75% of what they were when he declared the emergency.
Biden would have the power to immediately suspend these border emergencies for up to 45 days at any time.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.