(WASHINGTON) — A bipartisan group of senators has released the text of a proposal of a bill that would tie billions of dollars in new foreign aid to the first major overhaul of the country’s immigration system in years.
Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., hammered out an agreement that would beef up border security and immigration enforcement while authorizing more assistance to Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine.
Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), released the text of the $118.28 billion bipartisan national security supplemental package on Sunday night.
Included in the funding is $60.06 billion to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia and $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel. It also includes $10 billion in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other people in conflict zones. $4.83 billion will support Indo-Pacific regional partners and “deter aggression by the Chinese government.”
It also includes border policy changes, $20.3 billion for existing operational border needs, and the introduction of the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence Off Fentanyl Act.
The deal, only reached after four months of sometimes tense negotiations, may not be enough for hard-liners in Congress pushing for stricter regulations at the southern border.
“The devil is in the details. We’ll check it out. I’m not prejudging anything,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said on Friday. He previously called the deal “dead on arrival” if the final text was what had already been described in the press.
That Republican skepticism means the bill will face serious hurdles in passing both chambers of Congress.
Sources previously told ABC News that the deal would require the Department of Homeland Security to nearly shut down the border if migrant crossings increase above 5,000 per day on any given week or if average daily encounters reach a 4,000-a-day threshold in a one-week span.
That set off Republican attacks over the legislation — which Lankford, his party’s key negotiator on the proposal, worked to refute in the leadup to its release.
“They’re still waiting to be able to read the bill on this. And this has been our great challenge of being able to fight through the final words, to be able to get the bill text out so people can hear it,” he said on Fox News last month. “Right now, there’s internet rumors is all that people are running on. It would be absolutely absurd for me to agree to 5,000 people a day. This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day. There’s no amnesty.”
The Senate is expected to begin moving forward with the legislation later this week. Supporters will need 60 senators to back the bill during a Wednesday procedural vote, though it’s not yet clear whether there will be the requisite number of Republicans.
President Joe Biden reacted to news of the deal, by saying in a statement: “For too long, going back decades, the immigration system has been broken. It’s time to fix it. That’s why over two months ago I instructed members of my administration to work with a bipartisan group of Senators to – finally – seriously address the issue. And, that’s what they’ve done – working around the clock, through the holidays and over weekends. Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it.”
Sec. of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas also released a statement in support of the bipartisan Senate bill.
“The bipartisan agreement in the Senate is tough, fair, and takes meaningful steps to address the challenges our country faces after decades of Congressional inaction,” his statement read.
“It would allow DHS to remove more quickly those who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States, reducing the time from years to months. It would expedite protection and work authorization for those with legitimate claims. It would provide flexibility to respond to changing dynamics at the border, including temporarily prohibiting border entries for certain individuals when encounters are extremely high. It also delivers much-needed resources to support and expand the DHS workforce after decades of chronic underfunding, and it further invests in technology to help prevent fentanyl from entering our country at ports of entry,” his statement continued.
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