Home Politics House GOP unveils border bill as conservatives slam foreign aid measures

House GOP unveils border bill as conservatives slam foreign aid measures

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House GOP leaders on Wednesday introduced a new border security bill designed to appease conservatives who are up in arms that Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) foreign aid package excluded tougher measures to battle migration.

Johnson announced Wednesday morning that he was plowing ahead with sending aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan despite outspoken opposition from hard-line Republicans, many of whom were incensed that his plan excluded border security. For months, the Speaker had said that any assistance for Kyiv must be paired with legislation to address the situation at the southern border.

But in a change to his initial plan, the Speaker said he would move a separate border security bill as the House considered the foreign aid measures, a move that was largely viewed as a way to pacify the conservative anger. He said the border security bill would move under a separate procedural rule from the Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan measures.

The gambit, however, was met with sharp — and immediate — criticism from hard-line Republicans, who dismissed the new border bill as weak and part of a bad-faith effort by Johnson to satisfy the conservative concerns.

“That is a joke,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters of the border bill. “That’s pretend. That’s theater. That’s noise.”

“It’s a theatrics, shiny object,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) echoed. “It’s the shiny object for Republicans that are saying we got to do something for the border.”

The House is expected to vote on the border bill in the coming days as part of Johnson’s plan to send aid to embattled U.S. allies. But even if it passes the House it will face a dead end in the Senate, where many of the provisions are non-starters among Democrats.

Johnson, nonetheless, is pitching the border bill as an “aggressive” measure that is instrumental to the broader conversation about the national security supplemental.

“We’re gonna push a very aggressive border security measure on the floor. It’s part of this whole process. All these things are intertwined,” he told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “If you’re gonna talk about national security, and this is a national security supplemental package, you have to begin at our own border. And that’s what we’ve been saying over and over and over.”

“I think it’s gonna be a popular measure, and I expect we’re gonna vote that through with a big, sadly I think it’ll be a partisan vote, but I believe every Republican will support it, and then we will go out and tell the American people we’re still fighting for you,” he later added.

The original legislation that the End the Border Catastrophe Act is based on — H.R. 2 — was immediately ignored by the Senate after the House passed the bill last May.

The new legislation largely mirrors that effort, teeing up a vote on another bill that would drastically limit asylum and also require building former President Trump’s border wall.

Beyond slicing away at asylum protections for those fleeing persecution, the bill also limits other pathways for legal migration to the U.S.

It also re-ups other Trump-era policies, including requiring reignition of the controversial Remain in Mexico program requiring migrants to await their asylum cases in Mexico that was rescinded by the Biden administration.

Immigration advocates at the time had described H.R. 2 as among the most extreme provisions to be seriously considered by the House in recent years.

The only text from H.R. 2 to be struck from the new version is a provision that aimed to stem the hiring of those not legally present in the U.S. It sliced from the latest version a provision that would have required employers to do more to verify someone was legally qualified to work in the U.S. before hiring them.

“We’re gonna put the key elements of H.R. 2, which is our legislation that House Republicans passed over a year ago; it’s been sitting on Chuck Schumer’s desk collecting dust as they mock it,” Johnson said.

“We’re gonna reintroduce that. End catch and release, reinstate Remain in Mexico, fix the broken asylum process, fix the broken parole process, it’s been abused, rebuild portions of the wall.”

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