The massive $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill Democrats are trying to railroad through Congress before Christmas hit a major stumbling block Wednesday night. Title 42 and the border crisis created by the Biden administration took center stage in the Senate, threatening to derail the bill.
Democrats have been negotiating primarily with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to secure votes on some proposed amendments to the bill in exchange for an agreement to allow the bill to go through before Republicans take control of the House on January 3.
The bill is laden with pork projects and new foreign military aid payments to Ukraine, causing many House Republicans and some senators to object to the process. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) posted a lengthy Twitter thread containing some of the most egregious provisions in the bill. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) mocked the process by tweeting a picture of the entire 4,100+ pages of the bill that no lawmakers could possibly read before voting on the measure.
My team and I are reading through the omnibus bill today – all $1.7 trillion and 4,155 pages of it.
Follow along for some of the most egregious provisions in the bill ⬇️
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) December 20, 2022
I wonder how long it would take the clerk to read this… pic.twitter.com/iaphBzTEsS
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 20, 2022
On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced an amendment to the bill requiring the Biden administration to maintain the Title 42 public health policy adopted by President Donald Trump in 2020. That rule allows law enforcement officials at the southern border to immediately return illegal migrants to Mexico to limit the spread of COVID-19.
A federal court has ordered that the Title 42 policy be lifted this week, and Republicans and immigration experts are warning that a new and unprecedented surge in illegal migration will occur immediately thereafter.
Several Senate Republicans accused Democrats of blocking a floor vote on Lee’s Title 42 amendment that would allow it to be attached to the bill by a simple majority vote. Lee told reporters that he is convinced Democrats fear the amendment would pass if it only needed 51 votes.
He said, “Title 42 authority is the only thing standing between us and absolute pandemonium on the border. The Democrats won’t let us do it. Why? Because they’re afraid it might pass.”
Even Sen. Linsey Graham (R-SC), who has gone along with McConnell’s plans for passing the bill before Christmas, favors giving Lee’s amendment a floor vote. He tweeted Wednesday that it is “outrageous” that Democrats are blocking a vote on the amendment, declaring that if it “fails because Democrats care more about letting Title 42 lapse than funding the federal government, so be it.”
However, if the omnibus – which dramatically increases military spending and funds the government – fails because Democrats care more about letting Title 42 lapse than funding the federal government, so be it.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 22, 2022
The Senate remained in session until around 2 a.m. Thursday morning without voting on Lee’s Title 42 amendment or the massive spending bill. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he is still confident that “we will be able to lock in an agreement on the omnibus tomorrow morning.” He added, “We are very close, but we’re not there yet.”