Senate GOP floats border security amendment in funding bill negotiations, but some say it’s too weak
Negotiations among some GOP lawmakers to add border security provisions in the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government — which is headed for a shutdown Saturday night — are hitting a wall among some in the upper chamber who argue the current chatter around border measures is too soft.
Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn R-Texas, James Lankford, R-Okla., Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Katie Britt, R-Ala., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., began discussions Thursday afternoon on adding a possible border amendment that would appease hardline conservatives in the House, so it has a chance of surviving a vote. However, some sources say the negotiations won’t go far enough.
“If we pass this [CR] before the House, we completely undermine their ability to get real border security into the CR,” a source familiar with the negotiations told Fox News Digital Friday. “So we’re trying to hold off the Senate from doing this watered-down, weak border provision, so that the House can get an actual first serve over the net.”
On Thursday, the Senate voted to advance a CR authored by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that would extend this year’s funding levels temporarily while also allocating billions for U.S. disaster relief and Ukraine aid.
The short-term CR includes only $6.2 billion allocated to Ukraine — an $18 billion decrease from Biden’s August request to Congress. Another $6 billion is allocated to natural disaster funding. The Senate CR does not include any additional funding for border security in its current form.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said, “We’ve talked about it,” when asked about border security negotiations in the GOP. However, he added that he doesn’t want to just “throw more money” in the CR.
“I’m not just here to say, ‘Oh, if we just throw more money, it’ll be fine,’” Scott said to Fox News Digital Friday. That’s not true. Let’s do policy that actually fixes the border, and it actually happens.”
“Stick to money that you’re forced to actually finish security, whether it’s a wall or technology, whatever it is drones, whatever it is, real security,” he said.
Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, held a similar sentiment in a statement to Punchbowl on Friday, saying that House Republicans are already dismissing the Senate’s border security talks, which is like “putting lipstick on a pig,” he said.
“A clean CR with Ukraine funding is DOA [dead on arrival] in the House, whatever else you attach to it,” he told the outlet.
A spokesperson for Hagerty’s office told Fox News Digital that he is “involved in negotiations to try to drive a Senate GOP border proposal that implements real border security, and not just border management.” No other details were provided.
The Senate would need 60 votes on a border security amendment. It is unclear how much money senators want to allocate toward it.
The bill was passed by the House in May but has so far received little interest from Democrats. A Senate version was introduced this month by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In addition to strengthening border security measures, it would authorize an additional $110 million in grants to law enforcement agencies in border states to increase border security and increase drone flights at the border.
However, the White House has previously threatened that Biden would veto the legislation if it were to make it to his desk.
Over in the House, a procedural vote to advance their version of a CR passed earlier in the day, but it failed to pass in an 198 to 232 vote on Friday afternoon. Twenty-one Republicans voted against it, including Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Nancy Mace, R-S.C., among others.