The US House of Representatives votes against the conservative-backed border bill. • Daily Montanan

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives failed Saturday to pass a border security bill that Republican leadership intended as an incentive for conservatives to back a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The border bill, which was defeated by a vote of 215 to 199, was brought to the floor through an expedited procedure known as suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass. The conservatives it sought to appeal to labeled it a “show vote.”

Five Democrats, Donald G. Davis of North Carolina, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Mary Peltola of Alaska and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington, voted in favor of the bill along with all Republicans present.

The border security bill — virtually identical to legislation House Republicans passed last year — was an effort by House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana to quell growing discontent on the far right. through his support for the $95 billion foreign aid package expected to pass Saturday with the help of Democrats.

The measure stands alone and is not part of a package of three additional funding bills that include aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as well as another so-called sidecar bill on TikTok. The Senate will be able to pass the foreign aid package and ignore the border security bill that is very similar to another House-passed border bill that the Senate has not acted on.

Rather than quell the unrest, Johnson’s action only fueled more anger among far-right members. Three Republicans – Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona – are already supporting an initiative to impeach Johnson through a motion to leave.

During Friday’s debate, Democrats argued that the bill, HR 3602, was a repeat of HR 2, a bill Republicans passed last year that would implement Trump-era immigration policies such as border wall construction to recover. Both bills also require asylum seekers to remain in Mexico.

Border bill refund

Republicans largely supported the border bill, but several called the vote a “sham” and conceded the bill would not pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“Republicans in the House of Representatives are once again trying to get our Democratic colleagues and President Biden to take this border crisis seriously,” said Barry Moore of Alabama.

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler of New York, said the bill was a “reckless attempt to pass for the second time one of the most draconian immigration laws this Congress has ever seen.” This repetition of HR 2 is a joke.”

“Republicans have proven that they want the problem more than solutions,” he said. “So here we are again with virtually the same draconian bill as before, knowing that if it actually passes the House of Representatives, it will certainly go nowhere in the Senate.”

Nadler argued that if Republicans were serious about tackling immigration at the southern border, they would have supported the bipartisan border bill in the Senate, instead of rejecting it.

Three senators — Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma, Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut and independent Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have worked for months to draft a bill that would overhaul immigration policy at the request of Senate Republicans, who pushed for that border security provisions would be included in the foreign aid package.

But Republicans in Congress abandoned it early this year at the urging of the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who did not support the bill because he is focusing his re-election campaign on immigration.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, argued that the bill “isn’t quite HR 2.”

The bill is nearly identical to H.R. 2, but removes the mandate for employers to verify an employee’s immigration status and employment eligibility, and includes approximately $9 billion in grant programs for border states.

“Let’s take a step toward solving this problem and pass this legislation,” Jordan said of the southern border.

A ‘sham’

Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat and chair of the Progressive Congressional Caucus, said the bill was pointless.

“The majority could barely pass this legislation last year,” she said, referring to the party-line vote in 2023. “And now the bill will magically pass in the House with a two-thirds majority? Give me a break. This bill goes nowhere, so let’s be clear about that.”

Texas Republican Chip Roy agreed that the bill would not become law and expressed frustration that the Republican Party would not try to mobilize foreign aid money for it.

“Republicans continue to campaign on securing the border and then refuse to use any leverage to actually secure the border,” Roy said. “We should get it signed into law, but the only way to force Democrats to do that is through the use of power.”

Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs also agreed with Roy and Democrats that “this is a show vote.”

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry echoed similar comments but said he would still vote for the bill even though it is “designed to fail.”

“But I want everyone to know it’s a sham,” Perry said.