Home Politics Senate Democrats set to lose support from their own side on second border vote

Senate Democrats set to lose support from their own side on second border vote


Senior Senate Democrats are bracing for new defections from their side of the aisle in their latest push for another vote on February’s bipartisan border deal.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is planning a Thursday vote on a standalone version of the immigration proposal that Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) negotiated earlier this year. A previous version of the deal that was tied to aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan failed to advance by a 49-50 vote.

Five Senate Democrats voted against the bill back then. But now that foreign aid is no longer attached to it, Democrats expect their support could dwindle even further — even as they remain confident that the doomed-to-fail vote would help shore up their vulnerable incumbents’ standing ahead of the election and portray Republicans as obstructionist.

“I suspect there are a couple Democrats who voted yes on that bill because of the Ukraine money,” Murphy said. “My guess is there will be more Democrats voting against it.”

The existence of Democratic opposition, he argued, is “proof that it’s a bipartisan bill. If we had 51 votes for it, that would not suggest it’s a bipartisan compromise.”

And on the Republican side, Lankford himself has already said he will vote against the agreement he helped shape. Only four Republicans voted for the package last time — and the number could easily shrink to zero this time around.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he is undecided but called the vote “an entirely political ploy.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said “it’s hard to determine whether this is a genuine attempt to deal with border security.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said plainly: “I think the whole thing is dumb.” All three previously supported the legislation.

“The other side is now going to use it in a way to perhaps make some of their troubled incumbents in a better place,” Murkowski said. “But they don’t really think that they can pass it. So it’s just messaging on their side.”

Still, she suggested that her support for the bill hasn’t wavered: “I thought it was good enough to vote for before. The policy hasn’t changed.”

The bill would impose an automatic shutdown of the border if crossings surpass certain thresholds and strengthen asylum standards. No one expects it to get 60 votes to open debate, and few are predicting it can get a majority. Republicans said they’ve given little consideration to advancing the bill and offering potential amendments.

Which leaves campaign-trail politics as the leading factor in the maneuver. Both parties are looking to weaponize border issues in Senate races in Montana, Ohio and elsewhere, and the Democratic and GOP campaign arms have already begun messaging on the upcoming vote.

Even if it somehow miraculously passed, the legislation has no chance at floor time in the Republican-controlled House.

Still, Senate leaders both made their case on the renewed border vote on Tuesday.

“Democrats are doing this because we believe in fixing the border,” Schumer said, adding that the border bill is the “only real bipartisan bill negotiated by both sides with a real chance of passing and being put on the president’s desk.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has lamented the way the bill fell apart over the winter. But on Tuesday he countered that Senate Democrats’ border effort is an “attempt to try and convince the American people that they’re concerned about this when they caused it.”

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