Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams
The U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus said Monday that most of its 103 members would oppose an emergency spending package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan that empowers the Republican House majority to undermine protections for asylum-seekers, reinstate Trump-era travel bans, and implement other anti-immigrant policies.
“As Congress returns this week to consider the president’s emergency supplemental funding request for international aid and increased border funding, Republicans are still trying to force their anti-immigrant policies into the legislation,” CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Deputy Chair Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Whip Greg Casar (D-Texas) said in a statement. “Progressives are clear: We will not play this game.”
We need immigration policies based in humanity and dignity, not ones that completely destroy our asylum system.
The GOP’s extreme immigration demands are nonstarters. https://t.co/t6oSflbyPa
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) December 4, 2023
President Joe Biden requested the $106 billion “national security” spending package in October after Israel launched its retaliatory—and many experts say genocidal—war against Gaza and amid a battlefield stalemate in Russia’s 20-month invasion of Ukraine.
Politico congressional reporter Burgess Everett reported Monday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has moved for a Wednesday vote on the package, even though he knows it is likely to fail.
“His hope: That the prospect of defeat is enough to make both sides get serious about a deal,” Everett wrote.
Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday that “the step I am taking tonight will ensure the process for the supplemental moves forward, and that hopefully disagreements on immigration do not prevent us from doing what we must do to protect America’s security.”
Republicans in both chambers of Congress are pushing to condition any additional U.S. aid to Ukraine upon what GOP lawmakers call “border security” measures meant to stop migrants including people legally seeking asylum from entering the United States.
As Common Dreams reported Friday, Senate Republicans, backed by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), are working to include provisions of the Secure the Border Act—which calls for hiring more U.S. Border Patrol agents, continuing construction of the border wall, and other policies—as part of the broader funding package. GOP lawmakers also want to strip $14.3 billion in funding from the Internal Revenue Service as part of the deal.
“House Republicans are trying the same strategy that continues to fail: Hold Congress hostage to force their cruel, extreme, and unworkable agenda because they can’t pass it through the regular legislative process,” the CPC leaders said Monday. “This is the strategy that brought us to the brink of economic default and two government shutdowns. Proposed policies would destroy our U.S. asylum system and endanger immigrant lives while making the situation at the border worse, not better.”
The lawmakers continued:
Progressives have fought for decades in Congress to advance a comprehensive immigration policy that would uphold U.S. and international law, respect the humanity and dignity of those seeking refuge in this country, and strengthen the U.S. economy. We have passed commonsense legislation with bipartisan majorities. Our members are prepared to work with any colleague who wants to advance thoughtful, holistic, and relevant reforms to create a roadmap to citizenship, increase the efficiency of our asylum system, and more—but this extortion is not going to work.
“Progressives reject Republicans’ cynical attempt to imperil the lives of people seeking safety to pass this supplemental funding bill,” the trio added. “We call on our Senate Democratic colleagues to stand up for immigrants and the allied communities who sent us to Congress and show Republican extremism for what it is by moving forward an aid package without new anti-immigrant policies.”