PHOENIX - President Joe Biden is urging Congress to pass a border security bill, blaming Former President Donald Trump for the pushback coming from Republicans in the House of Representatives.
"I want to be clear: doing nothing is not an option. Republicans have to decide," the President said. "For years, they said they want to secure the border. Now, they have the strongest border bill this country has ever seen."
The bipartisan legislation has received support from the Border Patrol Council, but the deal comes with a hefty price tag. With a national debt currently at $34 trillion, this package also includes $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, $14 billion to Israel, and another $10 billion in foreign humanitarian aid.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has repeatedly called the bill ‘dead on arrival,’ and said it would actually make the situation at the border worse.
"You don't want to tell people around the world to ‘come on in’ over the border. We'll give you work, and by the way, we'll put most of you on public assistance so that the American taxpayer can spend billions and billions of dollars to feed, house, clothe, and educate you," said Johnson.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has the bill set for a test vote on Wednesday, Feb. 7, but there is a chance it will get pushed to Feb. 8.
Sen. Sinema among those negotiating the bill
Arizona's independent senator, Kyrsten Sinema, negotiated the bill with Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford.
"I believe that border policy is a national security issue," said Sen. Sinema.
She argues the bill will clean up the process for true asylum speakers, adding more detention beds for those crossing, and hiring more agents for processing migrants.
"If 4,000 people come to the border on a daily basis for seven days in a row, then the system is overwhelmed, and we shut down the border," said Sen. Sinema. "We keep it shut for a long enough time to be able to process all those people who have come to claim asylum."
Rep. Johnson said the bill endorses President Biden's so-called ‘catch and release’ policy. Sen. Sinema, however, claims it does the opposite, comparing the bill to Trump administration's Title 42 policy, with one key difference.
"Individuals could come and approach the border every day, over and over again," said Sen. Sinema. "They would get turned around, but there is no penalty."