WASHINGTON - U.S. senators have released a $118 billion package that overhauls the asylum system at the border and gives substantial military aid to Israel and Ukraine.
The bill would alter the asylum system at the border with faster and tougher enforcement, as well as give presidents new powers to immediately expel migrants if authorities become overwhelmed with the number of people applying for asylum.
The new bill would also invest in U.S. defense manufacturing, steer nearly $5 billion to allies in the Asia-Pacific, and provide humanitarian assistance to civilians caught in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.
A Maverick County Sheriff searches an migrant as a group of migrants from different nationalities arrive at the Mexico-US border despite heightened security measures, in Maverick County, Texas, United States on February 4, 2024. (Photo by Lokman Vura
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that the Senate must be "prepared to act." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the new legislation on a call with reporters, saying he’s never worked so closely with McConnell before to reach a deal.
"America’s sovereignty is being tested here at home, and our credibility is being tested by emboldened adversaries around the world," McConnell said. "The challenges we face will not resolve themselves, nor will our adversaries wait for America to muster the resolve to meet them."
President Joe Biden said in a statement that the Senate proposal "allows the United States to continue our vital work, together with partners all around the world, to stand up for Ukraine’s freedom and support its ability to defend itself against Russia’s aggression."
The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2024. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
"We’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades," he said on X, formerly Twitter. "And it includes support for Ukraine and Israel and provides humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people."
"I urge Congress to pass this bill immediately," Biden said.
It is still unclear if the bill will pass in the Senate, and the package faces a near impossible battle in the GOP-controlled House.
House Speaker Mike Johnson has called it "dead on arrival," and former President Donald Trump is actively rallying against the bill. Johnson has said the House will vote on a separate package of $17.6 billion of military aid for Israel — a move that allows House Republicans to show support for Israel apart from the Senate deal.
"Let me be clear: The Senate Border Bill will NOT receive a vote in the House," House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said on X Sunday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.