J. Scott Applewhite/AP
A bipartisan plan to address U.S. policy on asylum and border control faces major skepticism Monday as at least two dozen Republican senators cast serious doubt on the legislation's chances.
Sen. James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, one of the negotiators who drafted the bill, told reporters at the Capitol that he did not think a planned vote Wednesday on an opening debate a motion can be approved.
“We’re trying to figure out what to do next,” Lankford said. “People are saying, we need a lot more time to get through this.”
Lankford spoke to reporters after a lengthy closed-door GOP meeting in which members spoke — sometimes angrily — about the bill.
“I think the proposal is dead,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said bluntly.
Lankford wouldn't go that far. He told reporters it was clear the bill would need to be amended to garner more Republican support. But going further to the right risks losing enough Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold.
The recently released $118 billion national security bill includes about $20 billion for border provisions, including $650 million for the border wall and funding for asylum judges, increasing capacity detention and other programs.
The proposal would also increase the threshold for granting asylum claims, require an initial determination of eligibility within 90 days, and require border protection officers to turn back all migrants who enter between official ports of entry if the total number of encounters reaches a certain threshold.
The bill is the result of months of negotiations following demands from the Republican Party that Democrats tie border policy to President Biden's request for military aid to Israel and Ukraine.
Senate Republicans' doubts follow days of pressure from House Republicans and former President Trump to abandon the bill before details were made public. Opposition intensified in the hours following the bill's release.
“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time,” House Republican leaders said in a statement. “It is DEAD as soon as it arrived in the House. We encourage the United States Senate to reject it.”
“Only a fool, or a radical left-wing Democrat, would vote for this horrible border bill,” Trump said. published on Truth Social.
Some, like Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, echoed that message Monday.
“These are sort of pretty massive concessions to the Democratic policy goals,” Vance told reporters. “I’m not sure what the Republicans got out of it.”
“I think overall, the members who have already said no, I think it's hard to overcome that and the attitude of the House,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a member of the House. GOP Senate leadership. “I am very disappointed that so many of our members came out categorically against it before the bill was even released.”
“I wish we had given James [Lankford] the benefit of the doubt to review the text before we start expressing our opposition,” Ernst said.
“I hope they didn't send Senator Lankford and the rest of us on a wild ride,” lead negotiator Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, told reporters.
“There are certainly typically Republican groups that support us,” Murphy said, referring to a approval from a border protection officers' union, “but Trump seems to be a bit of a puppet master these days. I hope that's not true when it comes to this bill.”
Although the majority of Democratic senators appear to support the proposal, a few lawmakers have spoken out against the proposal.
“After months of a negotiation process that lacked transparency or the involvement of a single border Democrat,” Sen. Alex Padilla, Democrat of California, said in a statement. A declaration“The deal includes a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less.”