White House says ‘fairest, toughest’ border bill is ‘moment of truth’ for Republicans


EXCLUSIVE: The White House on Tuesday said the bipartisan Senate border bill provides “a moment of truth for House Republicans,” declaring that the way in which GOP lawmakers vote will “define the legacy of their narrow majority” in Congress.

Fox News Digital obtained a memo penned by White House deputy press secretary and Senior Communications Adviser Andrew Bates, titled: “Will the House GOP vote with the Border Patrol to secure the border, or for more fentanyl and Donald Trump?”

HOUSE SPEAKER SAYS SENATE BORDER BILL ‘DEAD ON ARRIVAL’ IF IT REACHES CHAMBER: ‘EVEN WORSE THAN WE EXPECTED’

In the memo, Bates touted the Senate’s bipartisan $118 billion border security and foreign aid package. The bill allocates $20 billion for border security and gives the federal government temporary authority to expel migrants when the average number of daily crossings exceeds a threshold. The border security component also includes ending “catch and release,” increasing standards for asylum screenings and attempting to process asylum claims quicker.

Joe Biden

President Biden speaks during a campaign event at Pearson Community Center in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. (Ian Maule/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

While it has some Republican support in the Senate, House GOP lawmakers, like House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said the bill would be “dead on arrival” if it reaches the lower chamber and said it is “even worse than we expected.” Republicans say the bill does not do enough to remedy the border crisis and stop releases of illegal migrants into the interior.

“The bipartisan border security deal is the toughest, fairest, and most significant border security legislation in decades,” Bates wrote in the memo, saying it has gained support from the Border Patrol Union, the Chamber of Commerce and more.

The outside of the White House

The White House in Washington, D.C. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Bates, detailing the bill, pointed to more than 1,500 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel; 1,200 new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel; equipment to help to detect fentanyl and thousands of new asylum officers.

The bill also includes a provision that allows officials to shut down entries into the United States at the southern border, but only when there is a rolling seven-day average of 5,000 encounters a day or 8,500 encounters in a single day.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates

Deputy press secretary Andrew Bates speaks as Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young, center, and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse listen during a press briefing in the Brady Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 28, 2022. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

At that point, DHS is mandated to expel all migrants without processing them, except for unaccompanied children. That authority can only end when encounters drop at least 25% for seven days, and DHS has 14 days to end the authority.

However, the president can suspend the authority for up to 45 days, and by the third calendar year, the DHS secretary is limited to using it for half the calendar year. DHS can also implement the authority at its discretion when the average number of encounters exceeds 4,000 a day.

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The bill also expedites two-year work permits for migrants who are released into the interior; provides government-funded legal counsel for migrants and children; tightens language for screening of migrants who claim asylum; work permits and temporary visas for 250,000 children of immigrants on temporary work visas who have since become adults; raises the cap on the number of green cards by 50,000 a year and more.

The bill also establishes an expedited pathway for Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. to get green cards.

Lankford frowns

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford outside the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“This is a moment of truth for House Republicans,” Bates wrote. “After opposing the record border security funding Joe Biden has signed into law every year of his presidency, will the House GOP finally say ‘yes’ to securing our border and putting the needs of families above partisan games?”

Bates added, “Will House Republicans say ‘yes’ to more law enforcement like Border Patrol, whose union supports this bipartisan deal, or will they instead say ‘yes’ to more fentanyl and to Donald Trump’s insistence that border security be delayed in the name of politics?”

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Bates said Republicans have a “critical choice” that “will define the legacy of their narrow majority.” 

“And it is House Republicans’ last meaningful chance to stop blocking the President from securing the border, a streak that goes back to their obstruction of his Day One comprehensive immigration reform plan,” Bates said.

However, Republicans are adamantly opposed, like Sens. Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, Mike Braun, Bill Hagerty, and others, and it also has significant opposition in the House.

Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson led GOP leaders in a statement opposing the border deal. (Getty Images)

“I’ve seen enough,” House Speaker Johnson wrote on X. “This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created. As the lead Democrat negotiator proclaimed: Under this legislation, ‘the border never closes.’”

“If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival,” the speaker declared.

GOP SENATORS RALLY AGAINST BIPARTISAN BORDER DEAL, CITING BIDEN’S POWER TO SUSPEND ‘EMERGENCY’ BILL

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said the Senate bill would not receive a vote in the lower chamber. Scalise oversees the schedule in the House.

“Let me be clear: The Senate Border Bill will NOT receive a vote in the House,” Scalise wrote on X. “Here’s what the people pushing this ‘deal’ aren’t telling you: It accepts 5,000 illegal immigrants a day and gives automatic work permits to asylum recipients — a magnet for more illegal immigration.”

Trump

Republican presidential candidate and former President Trump talks to reporters at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters headquarters on Jan. 31, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Additionally, former President Trump, the 2024 GOP frontrunner, warned Republicans that “only a fool or a Radical Left Democrat” would vote for the “horrendous” bill which “only gives shutdown authority after 5,000 encounters a day, when we already have the right to CLOSE THE BORDER NOW, which must be done.” 

“This bill is a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for the Republican Party,” Trump posted on his Truth Social, adding that the bill should not be tied to foreign aid.

Trump warned Republicans: “Don’t be STUPID!!!”

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“The Democrats broke Immigration and the Border,” Trump continued. “They should fix it.”

In a separate post, Trump said the “ridiculous bill” is “nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election.”

He added, “Don’t fall for it!!!”

Fox News Digital’s Adam Shaw contributed to this report. 



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