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Senate border vote fails again, losing support from both sides

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Chuck Schumer’s second attempt to advance a sweeping border package failed by a wider margin than the first time, with increased opposition among both Republicans and Democrats.

Senate campaign arms have already been hitting the other side on the predictable outcome, hoping to blame problems at the border on the opposing party. Biden administration officials have telegraphed that the president will soon take executive action to address border issues ahead of the November election.

The border policy package was the product of bipartisan negotiations between Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) last winter. It was originally tied to aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but foreign aid passed independent of border provisions after the first vote on the deal failed. Murphy reintroduced the border package as a standalone bill this month.

Several senators flipped to vote against the legislation this time around, including Sinema, Lankford and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.).

If enacted, the legislation would have heightened the standards for individuals seeking asylum and sped up processing times for claims. It also would have imposed an automatic shutdown authority at the southern border if daily crossings crossed certain thresholds. The closure powers, specifically, are expected to be a part of the president’s coming executive actions.

But even Republicans who supported the deal last time around — including Lankford — lambasted Senate Democrats for putting the bill on the floor. They dubbed it a blatant campaign messaging tactic and have called on Biden to use his executive powers, while Schumer called it a bipartisan solution to an issue both parties have expressed concern over.

“To my Republican colleagues, you wanted this border bill. … It’s time to show you’re serious about solving the problem,” the majority leader said ahead of the vote on Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell originally backed the border policy negotiations before coming out against the bill. He blasted the gambit from Senate Democrats on Thursday, as did many other Republicans.

“The solution is a president who’s willing to exercise the authority, to use the tools he already has,” McConnell said. “If Senate Democrats wanted to start fixing the crisis tomorrow, they would be urging the president to do exactly that.”