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Biden promises to use emergency border powers immediately if Congress passes bill

By Stew Davidson
January 28, 2024

President Joe Biden on Friday seemed to promote discussions between his administration and the Senate aimed at resolving the southern border crisis and made some surprising promises if his favored legislation secured passage, though Republicans remain skeptical.

This announcement comes in the face of House Speaker Mike Johnson's declaration that any such legislation would be considered "dead on arrival" in the House of Representatives, as Fox News reported.

Biden Endorses Major Border Reform

During a White House announcement, President Biden expressed his support for what he describes as the "toughest and fairest" set of border reforms negotiated with Senate members.

The president emphasized that the proposal would grant him new emergency powers to close the border in situations of overwhelming influx.

"It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed," Biden asserted. "And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law."

House Opposition Led by Speaker Mike Johnson

Contrasting with Biden's enthusiasm, Johnson conveyed a different stance in a letter to Senate colleagues.

Johnson explicitly stated that any legislation combining border issues with Ukraine aid would be nonviable in the House, particularly if it fails to adequately address the high numbers of illegal immigrants entering the United States.

The speaker's letter read, "I wanted to provide a brief update regarding the supplemental and the border since the Senate appears unable to reach any agreement. If rumors about the contents of the draft proposal are true, it would have been dead on arrival in the House anyway."

He further added, "I am emphasizing again today that House Republicans will vigorously oppose any new policy proposal from the White House or Senate that would further incentivize illegal aliens to break our laws."

Ongoing Negotiations and Republican Demands

The background of this legislative effort includes a long-term negotiation among bipartisan lawmakers and White House officials.

The goal is to release $60 billion in aid for Ukraine as part of the national security supplemental bill, a necessity since the Department of Defense's funds for Ukraine are already exhausted.

The Biden administration is advocating for over $100 billion in funding, including a significant $14 billion for border security.

Republican lawmakers, however, are insisting on strict limitations regarding the release of migrants within the U.S., specifically concerning the use of parole. Efforts continue to reach a middle ground that satisfies both parties.

In a statement, Biden urged legislators to approve the funding for Ukraine requested in October.

The plan incorporates provisions for expanding the border workforce, including the addition of 1,300 U.S. Border Patrol agents, 375 immigration judges, and 1,600 asylum officers.

Additionally, it involves acquiring over 100 inspection machines to specifically target the smuggling of fentanyl into the U.S.

Biden stressed, "For everyone demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it. If you're serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it."