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GOP Senators Consider Baiting House With Border Clause To Force More Ukraine Aid Amid Shutdown

McConnell at press conference
Image CreditNBC News/YouTube

As funding for the federal government is set to expire at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, a group of Senate Republicans hoped to appease both parties by adding a border security amendment to a bill that would continue funding at its current level and send billions of taxpayer funds to Ukraine.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted Friday evening that the Senate bill is “dead on arrival” in the House. Sen. Mike Lee called out Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the handful of Republican senators for writing the bill “in secret” as a “manipulative effort” to give an additional $6.2 billion to Ukraine.

On Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters the Senate was trying to find a “way to grow the vote to avoid a shutdown, but also to have real teeth on border and immigration reform that is credible and could potentially get done.” By Friday, a proposed border security amendment reviewed by The Federalist was circulating Senate offices, but had no “real teeth” at all.

The stated goal of the amendment was to ensure the continuing resolution can get the 60 votes necessary from both Republicans and Democrats by “enforcing immigration laws” and defunding “Biden’s resettlement operation, without raising spending.”

The amendment would defund the transporting of migrants and reduce funding for the FEMA Shelter and Services Program. With no funding for transportation or sheltering services, migrants would be stuck wherever they illegally crossed the border, effectively creating a “Remain in Texas” policy.

The amendment also reallocates funds from shelter services to hire more Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, while ignoring that there is nothing to stop these executive branch hires from shifting law enforcement hires to processing duties, as is currently happening. This move also ignores the ongoing hiring and employee retention crises these agencies are facing despite raises and bonuses.

Finally, the amendment also claims it would “require” the $1.7 billion Congress has already set aside to fund the border wall to be spent by the Biden administration, but it’s unclear how such an amendment would force the administration and its agencies to spend money on a wall it’s refused to build for years.

Republican senators reportedly working on this amendment include Sens. Bill Hagerty, John Thune, Thom Tillis, James Lankford, Susan Collins, plus independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. These offices did not return requests for public comment before press time. 

Sen. Katie Britt was also rumored to be working on the amendment. Britt told The Federalist “We need a full return to President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, and I’ll only support a measure that accomplishes true border security rather than border management,” but did not address whether her office was working on the amendment in question or not.

Cornyn’s press secretary Tatum Wallace told The Federalist that the Texas senator “isn’t working on any border plan,” despite Cornyn’s claims earlier in the week.

The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson contributed to this report.

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