May 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Schumer moving to give cover to Biden, Dems on border action

 Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (R), stands next to a poster that reads "Republicans killed the toughest boarder security bill 98 days ago.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), talks about the border security bill on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will give the White House cover to use stricter immigration executive actions by resurrecting a bipartisan border bill for a vote likely next week, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Schumer's move serves a dual purpose, also protecting his vulnerable Democratic incumbents on one of their worst issues ahead of 2024.

  • Republicans are expected to overwhelmingly vote against the bill, which would provide new tools to restrict access to asylum when border numbers surge.
  • The bill's failure would bolster the White House's standing to pull the trigger on similar, harsh restrictions using executive authorities — while blaming Senate Republicans for inaction.
  • Multiple Democratic sources said they see Schumer's renewed focus on the border as a precursor to executive action by President Biden.

The border is slated to be front and center in the Senate next week, multiple sources told Axios.

  • Democrats expect Republicans to stand against the border package, which had backing from both parties earlier this year but was killed after former President Trump urged his allies to block it.
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who was the lead Republican negotiator on the package, told reporters on Thursday that he would not vote for it now, saying Schumer's move is "just political messaging."
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who negotiated the deal on behalf of Democrats, started the process by reintroducing the bill this week.

What to watch: The Biden administration has been preparing various executive and administrative actions for months.

  • It has already rolled out efforts to fast-track the asylum process for some illegal border crossers and imposed visa restrictions on Colombians and Nicaraguans, targeting people who profit off of migrant smuggling.
  • Biden is also expected to use a section of U.S. code called 212(f) — the basis for some of Trump's harshest immigration moves — to severely curtail asylum-seekers when border numbers spike.

Congressional Democrats facing tough re-election bids in November have been pounding the table for border legislation in Congress and for action from the White House.

  • Republicans have made the border the top issue in campaigns across the country as the party tries to take back a majority in the Senate.
  • Recent polling has found that immigration is one of — if not the — top issues for American voters this year.
Go deeper