Border Bill Goes Down in Flames on Senate Floor

Border Bill Goes Down in Flames on Senate Floor

The bipartisan border bill failed in the U.S. Senate Thursday, even losing the support of two key negotiators who helped craft the legislation. This marked the second time the Senate voted against moving forward with the bill.

The vote on the border bill “is not an effort to actually make law, it is an effort to do political messaging,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said Thursday ahead of the vote. Lankford worked to negotiate the bill with Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., but he and Sinema voted against the bill Thursday, criticizing the reintroduction of the bill as being politically motivated.  

The bill, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed with 50 senators voting against it and 43 voting in favor.

The vote broke largely along party lines with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska being the only Republican to vote for the bill. Six Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill.

During the first vote in February, Lankford voted in favor of advancing the border bill, along with Murkowski, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mitt Romney of Utah. 

Analysts expected the latest vote on the bill to fail following Republicans’ outspoken criticism of the measure.  

The bill “spends $20 billion to not secure the border, but to more efficiently encounter, process, and disperse illegal migrants,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said during a news conference Wednesday.  

Johnson and other GOP senators bashed the bill for allowing up to 5,000 illegal aliens to enter daily in a seven-day period.  

The bill directs the Department of Homeland Security to close the southern border “during a period of seven consecutive calendar days, [if] there is an average of 5,000 or more aliens who are encountered each day.”

Over 1.8 million illegal aliens a year still would be permitted to enter the United States under the now twice failed legislation.  

Republicans bashed the bill as an election year stunt.  

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are promoting the bill because “poll numbers are showing [Democrats] that, after months and months of throwing the border open to anyone who wants to come in, that the public doesn’t like the policy.”  

Gallup reports that immigration is the No. 1 issue not specifically related to the economy on the minds of American voters right now.   

“And now, all of a sudden, six months before an election, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats have got religion on border security,” Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio., said ahead of the vote.   

Under the Biden administration, Customs and Border Protection has encountered over 9.5 million illegal aliens on America’s border and at ports of entry. With five months remaining in fiscal year 2024, CBP encounters of illegal immigrants under President Joe Biden’s leadership are expected to far surpass 10 million before the start of the new fiscal year.  

An additional nearly 1.8 million illegal aliens have crossed the border managing to evade Border Patrol. Authorities refer to them as “known gotaways.” It is impossible to know how many unknown gotaways have entered the country in recent years. 

Senate Republicans continue to advocate for the passage of the border security bill known as H.R. 2, which the House passed in May 2023. If passed into law, H.R. 2 would end “catch and release,” restart construction of the border wall, and reinstate the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, among other things. 

“The Democrats don’t want border security,” Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement. “Every single Democrat in the Senate supports these open borders. And I can say that because every single time we push to implement real border security to stop this invasion—to stop Joe Biden from releasing criminal illegal aliens that are threatening our families—every single Democrat votes no.”

On Tuesday night, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Cruz, spoke on the Senate floor and called for the Senate to pass H.R. 2 by unanimous consent. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., reserved the right to object and blocked the bill.   

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.