Republicans block $10 billion COVID-19 aid deal over pandemic border policy


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Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of spending another $10 billion to fight COVID-19 because Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer refused to allow a vote on reinstating a pandemic emergency order that helped block illegal aliens from entering the U.S. 

All 50 GOP senators voted against the motion, which fell 10 votes short of the 60 needed to survive.

“The bottom line is this is a bipartisan agreement that does a whole lot of good for the American people,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat. “It should not be held hostage for an extraneous issue.”

While Republicans originally agreed to the extra pandemic spending, they demanded Mr. Schumer allow an amendment to block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from rescinding Title 42. The order, which was first implemented at the height of the pandemic, gives the federal government the power to immediately expel illegal immigrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The Biden administration announced plans earlier this month to rescind the order because the coronavirus was receding. Republicans, however, contend that if the pandemic is receding enough to allow illegal immigrants to flood then there is no need for the $10 billion aid package.

“Since Title 42 is being terminated because COVID is over, why do we need to spend another $10 billion on COVID relief or wear masks on airplanes,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennesse Republican. 

Mr. Schumer would not bow to such pressure. The reason was mainly political given that an amendment restoring Titel 42, which would only need a simple majority to pass, would likely receive bipartisan support. 

Nearly half a dozen Democratic senators have pushed back on the CDC’s decision to rescind the order. 

“Until we have comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform that commits to securing our borders and providing a pathway to citizenship for qualified immigrants, Title 42 must stay in place,” said Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat. 

Although some Senate Democrats are in support of restoring the border prohibition, most members of the party within the House are backing Mr. Biden. Complicating matters is that the House Democrats are already undecided about the coronavirus package after senate negotiators gutted $5 billion for global vaccine distribution. 

“A lot of the success that we can have in crushing COVID-19 is making sure we understand that this is a global issue, just like the climate,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat. 

Given the Democratic divisions, administration officials are pushing Mr. Schumer to stand firm. 

“This should not be included on any funding bill,” said Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus czar. “The decision should be made by the CDC, which it has been and that’s where it belongs.”

After days of wrangling, bipartisan negotiators struck the deal for more COVID-19 spending late Monday. Republican negotiators said they could not approve new spending after the U.S. lavished $6 trillion on pandemic relief. 

The $10 billion deal is less than half the amount that President Biden demanded. The deal also faces an uncertain path in the House, where some Democrats signaled they would reject a package that doesn’t include spending to fight the virus in foreign countries.


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