House member says ‘eulogy has already been read’ on border bill as Biden blames Trump for stalemate
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lawmakers on Capitol Hill weighed in on the divisive Senate border security bill that some House members say is already dead.
“Republicans aren’t finding it a good deal, and I think even senators are backing away from it,” GOP Rep. Doug LaMalfa. “There was a little bit of shouting in their meeting last night on the Republican side.”
“It’s just not a good package if you’re looking for border security,” the California congressman added. “It’s not really a border bill as they call it. It’s something else.”
But Rep. Henry Cuellar said he supports the legislation and that action on border security is necessary.
“There are people on the far-right, people on the far-left that have concerns, but I think a lot of us would support it,” the Texas Democrat told Fox News. “Let’s support border security. We can negotiate.”
A long-awaited bipartisan border security deal was revealed Sunday night, aimed at gaining control of an asylum system that has been overwhelmed by historic numbers of migrants flooding the border. It also would give the president and the Department of Homeland Security power to temporarily close the border when it’s overwhelmed and require a shutdown once a certain threshold is reached.
President Biden blamed the bill’s potential failure squarely on former President Trump.
“All indications are this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor,” Biden said Tuesday afternoon. “Why? A simple reason: Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically.”
Many Republicans in both the House and the Senate have voiced opposition to the $118 billion spending package, saying its measures aren’t aggressive enough to curb illegal immigration. Some are critical of its attachment to Democrats’ supplemental aid proposal allocating $60 billion toward Ukraine, $14 billion to Israel and $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for civilians “caught in conflict zones.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson wrote on X the bill would “be dead on arrival” in the lower chamber if it passed the Senate. Similarly, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the Senate bill would not receive a House vote.
“Steve’s our leader and obviously he’s got his finger on the pulse of our conference,” Rep. Jack Bergman told Fox News. “Steve’s in the position he’s in for a reason cause he can lead.”
“There’s always a next step,” the Michigan Republican added. “What I saw in there this morning was that people were giving thoughtful consideration to everything, and when you do that, you’re gonna come up with the best results.”
Rep. Scott Franklin, who doesn’t support the bill, doesn’t expect to see it get a House vote.
“I think we presented a very good plan in H.R.2,” the Florida Republican told Fox News, referring to the Secure the Border Act, which the House passed last year. “You can’t piecemeal what we did. Those pieces all need to work together.”
“I think the conservatives on the Senate side are emboldened to see the House finally standing up and bucking Senate leadership,” Franklin continued. “I think that’s a good thing.”
The bipartisan bill would allot $20 billion to immigration enforcement, including the hiring of thousands of new officers to evaluate asylum claims and hundreds of Border Patrol agents, plus $650 million to build and reinforce the border wall. It would also grant a certain number of migrants work authorization while waiting for their asylum claims to be decided.
If the number of illegal border encounters reaches above 5,000 daily for a five-day average, an expulsion authority would automatically kick in so that migrants are sent back to Mexico without an opportunity to make an asylum claim. If the number reaches 4,000, presidential administrations would have the option of using the expulsion authority.
Migrant encounters hit 302,000 in December, an all-time high, according to Customs and Border Patrol. Border encounters have reached 5,000 all but seven days over the past four months, according to CBP data.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett told Fox News there is no border deal to consider any more “thanks to the obstruction of the Senate.”
“I’d be eager to consider the proposal if the Republicans in the Senate decide to release it,” the Texas Democrat added. “I suppose those who’ve said our national security is in danger at the border have decided to obstruct the bill for political purposes.”
“Apparently, the loudest critic is Donald Trump, who wants a campaign issue and not a solution,” Doggett continued. “I think it’s unfortunate because I think they’re are many people, both Republicans and Democrats who would like to find a solution.”
After opposition from GOP members, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly recommended that Republicans vote against the deal during a Monday night meeting, making it unclear if the bill will clear the Senate.
Biden said he hopes Republicans “reconsider” blowing up the border deal and that “doing nothing is not an option.”
But Rep. Matt Gaetz told Fox News “the eulogy has already been read when Mitch McConnell comes out against his own legislation.”
“This legislation was terrible. It would’ve really iced in a lot of the bad decisions that Mayorkas and Biden made that led to an open border,” the Florida Republican continued. “And I think that the proponents of this terrible Senate border deal have really been exposed.”
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.