Republicans doubled down on their demand to hold a vote on an amendment that would keep the Title 42 border restrictions in place as part of $10 billion covid funding bill that President Joe Biden wants passed.
And Republicans put the blame for the delay in pandemic funding on the White House, calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement that the Trump-era policy on the border would expire in May ‘not helpful.’
‘Putting this Title 42 issue out just as we were about to move forward on this $10 billion deal was not helpful,’ said GOP Senator Roy Blunt.
He said the issue was going to to get punted to after Congress’ two-week Easter recess, pushing a vote on the measure closer to the end of April.
The White House has described the funding measure as ‘vital.’
Republican Senators Mitt Romney (left) and Roy Blunt (right) doubled down on their demand to hold a vote on an amendment that would keep the Title 42 border restrictions in the covid funding bill
On Tuesday night, every Republican senator voted against beginning debate on the bill, halting the legislation in its path. Senate Democrats needed 10 Republicans on board for the measure to move forward.
The $10 billion funding measure – which is less than the White House wanted and contained no international aid – got caught up in border politics after the CDC announced on Friday they would rescind the publich health order known as Title 42 on May 23.
Since March 2020, the Department of Homeland Seurity has used the public health order to quickly expel migrants at the border due to health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans want the order to stay in place. Three GOP-led states are suing to keep it.
The White House slammed Republicans for stopping the legislation.
‘It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down consideration of a much-needed bill to purchase vaccines, boosters, and life-saving treatments for the American people,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement hours after the vote.
‘As we have repeatedly said, there are consequences for Congress failing to fund our COVID Response. The program that reimbursed doctors, pharmacists and other providers for vaccinating the uninsured had to end today due to a lack of funds.’
‘It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down consideration of a much-needed bill to purchase vaccines, boosters, and life-saving treatments for the American people,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a Tuesday evening statement after the GOP blocked the $10 billion Covid aid bill in a 47-52 vote
Ahead of the vote, she told DailyMail.com in the daily White House press briefing that Title 42 was health policy and should not be wrapped up in politics.
‘This is a decision made by the CDC. It’s a public health decision. It’s not one that should be wrapped up, of course, in politics,’ she said. ‘Certainly COVID-19 doesn’t look at your party affiliation before it decides to inflict you with the virus.’
Democrat Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon voted with Republicans against moving the bill forward. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his ‘yes’ vote in a last-minute procedural move to enable him to bring the package back to the floor.
Their fellow Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey did not vote, according to the Senate Press Gallery.
Schumer said after the vote, ‘This is a potentially devastating vote for every single American who was worried about the possibility of a new variant rearing its nasty head within a few months.’
It comes as scientists warn a new sub-variant of the Omicron Covid strain, known as BA.2, could lead to a spike in virus cases in the US after recent waves in Europe and Asia.
One Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, joined Republicans in blocking the measure. Schumer switched his vote to ‘no’ in a last-minute procedural move
GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier on Tuesday that there would need to be an amendment keeping Title 42 in place in order for Democrats to pass more Covid aid with the 10 Republican votes they needed to make it happen.
‘There’ll have to be an amendment on Title 42 in order to move the bill,’ McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Tuesday. ‘We’ll need to enter into some kind of agreement to process these amendments in order to go forward with the bill.’
Schumer said that the Covid relief bill should ‘not be held hostage’ to other proposals.
Lawmakers reached a bipartisan deal to offer $10 billion in additional Covid-19 funding on Monday. The bill funded vaccines, therapeutics and other Covid safety measures domestically, but dropped funding for fighting the pandemic abroad.
‘There’ll have to be an amendment on Title 42 in order to move the bill,’ McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Tuesday. ‘We’ll need to enter into some kind of agreement to process these amendments in order to go forward with the bill’
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he ‘absolutely’ wanted a Title 42 amendment to the bill. ‘It’s utterly insane that the administration claims to be concerned about COVID,’ he said. ‘At the same time, they’ve decided just to throw open the doors to illegal aliens who are COVID-positive.’
Title 42 was first implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 and has been used to expel most migrants at the border. In February, 55 percent of people who arrived at the border were turned away due to the order.
More than 1.6 million migrants – mostly single adults and family units – have been expelled under Title 42 by both Trump and Biden.
In order to pass the $10 billion coronavirus aid deal before April 9, when both chambers go on a two-week break, all 100 senators need to cooperate, potentially giving Republicans leverage to force an amendment vote.
The $10 billion plan is less than half of what the White House originally requested, but some Republicans were prepared to offer nothing as they claimed previous Covid funding had been squandered or still had yet to be spent.
While past Covid-19 relief bills, such as the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, have been saddled with funding for struggling families and businesses, the new deal would be narrowly tailored to public health efforts to fight the virus.
A migrant girl walks through an encampment where she lives along with other migrants that were mostly sent back to Mexico and now they wait to be allowed into the U.S. when Title 42 is lifted, in Reynosa, Mexico, April
Elvia, 9, Sarai, 10, and Yadira, 8, asylum-seekers from Central America, pass their time at a migrant camp at the border where they have lived for months with other migrants that were mostly sent back to Mexico and now they hope to be allowed into the U.S. when Title 42 is lifted, in Reynosa, Mexico, April 1
Migrants that were mostly sent back to Mexico wait to receive a meal prepared by other migrants that live at the encampment yards away from the border as they hope to be allowed into the U.S. when Title 42 is lifted, in Reynosa, Mexico, April 1
Senate Republicans including Mitt Romney, Utah, Richard Burr, N.C. and Roy Blunt, Mo., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were working with Democrats after the pandemic funding was pulled from the 2022 budget bill. Lead negotiators on the Democratic side were Sens. Chris Coons, Del., Chuck Schumer, N.Y., and Patty Murray, Wash. The new deal could clear the upper chamber as soon as this week.
A number of moderate Democratic senators have opposed the rescission of Title 42, but none have weighed in on the amendment suggestion.
Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, both Arizona Democrats, put out a statement warning against rolling back the order without a plan to deal with an onset of migrants, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., said he is discussing with Republicans what to do about the matter.
A number of House Democrats had threatened to vote against the new aid deal without international funding, arguing it was necessary to keep new variants from developing and spreading to the U.S.
But during a Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday leadership urged them not to vote ‘no’ on the package. Some have suggested a separate bill on international Covid aid could come up later in the year.
Migrants that were mostly sent back to Mexico pass their time at an encampment yards away from the border while many hope to be allowed into the U.S. when Title 42 is lifted
Biden asked Congress for another $22.5 billion to fight the pandemic, and lawmakers had originally included $15.6 billion in aid as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget bill, meaning it could have passed with a simple majority vote. But the Covid aid was yanked at the last second after progressives protested the pay-fors of the funding – repurposing about $7 billion in leftover state and local Covid relief.
Moderate Republicans who could be swayed to vote for further aid insisted it was paid for, and demanded a full accounting of where other aid money has gone so far.
The new deal set to be announced Monday is paid for by repurposing aid from previous Covid-19 bills, but does not dig into state assistance.