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Biden urges Congress to pass bipartisan immigration bill, says Republicans are 'caving' to Trump’s demands

Former President Donald Trump has been urging lawmakers from his party to tank the bill, which the Senate is expected to take up on Wednesday.
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Congress to pass a bipartisan package of border security measures and asylum restrictions and blamed former President Donald Trump for being behind the effort to tank it on the Senate floor.

In remarks from the White House, Biden called the bill "the most fair, humane reforms in our immigration system in a long time and the toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever."

He continued, "Now, all indications are this bill won't even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason: Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it's bad for him politically."

Biden said that Trump would "rather weaponize this issue than actually solve it." He said that he's been told that for the last 24 hours, Trump has done nothing but reach out to Republicans in the House and Senate "and threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal."

"Looks like they're caving," Biden said. "Frankly, they owe it to the American people to show some spine, and do what they know to be right."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and others acknowledged hours after Biden's remarks that the bill they helped negotiate was dead, even after McConnell and the top GOP negotiator, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., signed off on it.

During his remarks, Biden highlighted the provisions within the legislation, negotiated by Lankford and Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and argued that it would make the country safer and the border more secure.

Biden said that, just months ago, Republicans requested the exact bill that was negotiated and "now they're saying nevermind." He warned that if Congress fails to pass the package, he will make it absolutely clear to the American people "why it failed."

"Every day, between now and November, the American people are gonna know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends," Biden said, adding that Republicans need to show a little "courage" and ignore Trump's pleas to block the bill.

The president also emphasized the bill's importance in that it would provide aid that Israel, the Palestinians in Gaza and Ukraine desperately need. He even said that it "indirectly" has to do with a potential deal to secure the release of hostages still being held in Gaza.

The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote Wednesday that will require 60 votes to advance the measure, which also includes aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But after a closed-door meeting Monday night, Republican senators predicted that they would not have the votes to move forward with the bill.

"I would anticipate Wednesday the cloture vote does not pass," Lankford told reporters after the meeting. "People are saying, 'Hey, I need a lot more time to be able to go through this.'"

By Tuesday, McConnell said that the bill "will not become law," though he praised Lankford's efforts.

“We had a very robust discussion about whether or not this product could ever become law and it’s been made pretty clear to us by the speaker, that it will not become law.” McConnell said. “So, I wanted to congratulate Senator Lankford on a remarkable job of negotiating with the other side, getting the support of the Border Council. But it looks to me, and to most of our members, is that we have no real chance here to make a law.” 

House Republican leaders had said that the legislation is "dead on arrival" in the lower chamber and Trump has been publicly urging lawmakers from his party to tank it, saying that it would be a "gift" to Biden and Democrats in an election year.

"I cannot vote for this bill," said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso, the third highest-ranking member of his caucus, said Tuesday. Barrasso, who is also the highest-ranking Senate Republican to endorse Trump for re-election, added, "Americans will turn to the upcoming election to end the border crisis."

Since the beginning of his administration, Biden has called on Congress to pass legislation to address the nation's broken immigration system. The deal that Lankford negotiated came after Republicans said they would only agree to pass funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as requested by the administration, if Biden agreed to tougher border security measures.

Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator in border talks, told reporters Tuesday that there was “no” hope left for the bill because "Republicans have definitively sided with Donald Trump."

"They have decided they want to keep chaos at the border because it is a political winner for them," Murphy said. "They have decided against a bipartisan breakthrough bill that could have, would have, fixed the border, that would have fixed a broken asylum."

"Republicans didn’t even give it two days before they ran for the hills," he added. "Why? Because Donald Trump told them that they need to preserve chaos at the border. I think that’s so unfortunate for this entire country.”

Meanwhile, House Republican leaders are planning to hold a vote Tuesday on a standalone Israel aid bill, which will require a two-thirds majority to pass. It faces an uphill climb due to opposition from House conservatives as well as fierce criticism from Democratic leadership and a veto threat from Biden who have accused Johnson of playing politics on the issue after rejecting the broader immigration, Ukraine and Israel package.

Johnson told reporters that Israel and Ukraine funding should be dealt with “independently and separately” while giving no indication that Ukraine aid has a path through the House. He said Republicans want more details from the administration on the endgame for Ukraine but insisted: “That’s not been abandoned.”