Negotiations on a solution for border security and asylum restrictions have stalled, but hours before the vote, President Joe Biden gave his strongest public signal yet that he wants a deal
WASHINGTON — The Senate failed Wednesday to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s national security package, with Republicans unifying to filibuster it due to a lack of immigration limits that they have demanded be a condition for winning their support.
The vote was 49-51, with Republicans voting against moving forward with the bill, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats. Sanders has said he opposes giving aid to Israel unconditionally unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government changes its practice, which he has called “immoral” and “in violation of international law.”
“This cannot wait. … We cannot let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin win,” Biden said, accusing “extreme” Republicans of “playing chicken” with the package by demanding “partisan” border policies.
“Do they really want a solution?” he asked. “I am willing to make significant compromises on the border.”
Senate negotiations on border security and immigration policy hit a breaking point last Friday amid irreconcilable differences between Republicans, who want to take aggressive steps to stem the flow of migration, and Democrats, who accuse the GOP of pushing radical changes that would shut off legal pathways to the United States.
The talks had been led by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who in recent days have been unable to agree on whether they’re still even negotiating.
Lankford left the vote saying, “This is not the end.”
The Republican said Biden’s remarks were a step in the right direction.
“I see that as a significant sign that he understands, hey, this is a holistic package. We’ve been talking about national security. It’s got to all be there,” he said, adding that he’s in touch with White House staff about it. “We’ve got to get back in the room and talk through — how do we actually land the plane?”
“We understand there has to be a bipartisan agreement over here,” Lankford continued. “We’re not delusional to think this is going to be a Republican-only bill” with a Democratic-led Senate and White House and a narrow GOP majority in the House.
Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reiterated his offer to Republicans to craft a border amendment of their choosing and vote on it as part of the bill at a threshold of 60 votes. He said the package represents “a moment of truth for the Senate, for the country, for the fight for democracy and western values.”