Senate Tees Up Another Doomed Vote on Border Bill

Senate Tees Up Another Doomed Vote on Border Bill

Schumer is lining up a vote for Thursday.
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Monday, May 20, 2024

Happy Monday! Congratulations to Manchester City F.C. on a fourth straight Premier League championship, and our condolences to the city of Kyle, Texas, which reportedly gathered 706 people named Kyle in one place Saturday but fell well short in its attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest meet-up of people with the same name. That title, according to the Associated Press, still belongs to a town in Bosnia where 2,325 Ivans got together in 2017.

Here’s what else you should know.

Senate Tees Up Another Doomed Vote on Border Bill

Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer are rapidly approaching, but on Capitol Hill, the season of messaging bills is already in full swing.

This week, the Senate will once again consider a bipartisan border security bill that Republicans blocked earlier this year after former President Donald Trump urged them to oppose it even though it contained many GOP priorities. At the time, the $20.23 billion in border measures were packaged with billions more in funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which Congress has since approved. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Sunday that he’ll bring the border bill up again as a standalone measure.

"The Border Act overhauls our asylum laws, hires thousands of new border agents, invests in cutting edge technology to stop the flow of fentanyl and gives the President new authorities to close the border," the New York Democrat wrote in a letter to Senate colleagues. "Endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, the bipartisan Border Act is, by any objective measure, a tough, serious-minded, and — critically, bipartisan — proposal to secure our border."

It’s also doomed to fail again.

Even though the White House on Monday called on senators to set aside partisan politics and vote to secure the border, Schumer admitted in his letter that he does not expect all Democrats to support the bill this time. Senate Republicans haven’t changed their stance on it since February, when they killed the bill in a test vote. And House Republican leaders made clear in a joint statement that "the bill would be dead on arrival" should it get to their chamber. Speaker Mike Johnson and other House GOP leaders instead urged Schumer to vote on a House Republican immigration and border bill, H.R. 2. "If Senate Democrats were actually serious about solving the problem and ending the border catastrophe, they would bring up H.R. 2 and pass it this week," they wrote.

The bottom line: Schumer is setting up a procedural vote on Thursday. It will very likely fail to get the 60 votes needed, but Democrats are pushing ahead anyway in the hopes that this will bring renewed attention to the border issue — a key one for many voters — and further shift the narrative around it, allowing them to blame Republicans for a crisis that has dogged President Biden.

Yellen Rejects Global Billionaire Tax

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. does not support a proposal for a global tax on billionaires. The idea has been floated by Brazil, which is leading the G20 group of major economies this year, and supported by ministers from other member nations, including France.

The proposed tax would require billionaires to pay a 2% levy on their overall wealth each year, with the goal of ending international tax avoidance and reducing economic inequality.

The proposed levy would be similar to the global corporate income tax backed by roughly 140 nations. "This is exactly what we did with minimum taxation on corporate tax," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said last month, per The Wall Street Journal. "It would be the same on the international taxation for the wealthiest individuals."

Yellen has supported global corporate income tax, but opposition from Republicans in Congress means it is unlikely to become law in the U.S. At the same time, Yellen has now made it clear that a global wealth tax for individuals is a step too far as far as the U.S. in concerned.

"We believe in progressive taxation," Yellen said. "But the notion of some common global arrangement for taxing billionaires with proceeds redistributed in some way—we’re not supportive of a process to try to achieve that. That’s something we can’t sign on to."

Quotes of the Day

"We’re also trying to keep the spending levels flat. … If you’re going to increase defense, it means a decrease elsewhere, and that’s going to be the big battle."

− House Speaker Mike Johnson, previewing upcoming fiscal showdowns in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Friday.

Johnson discussed the challenges he’s faced wrangling a historically slim Republican majority. "Miraculously," he said, "we have been able to keep the government open and not, you know, cause any new international conflicts." He also told the Journal that he sees the isolationism rampant in some parts of his conference as a "dangerous thing" and that some of his GOP colleagues are so suspicious of the "deep state" that they can’t believe anything they are told in classified briefings.

Despite all the difficulties he’s had, he said he intends to keep the speaker’s gavel. He added that he’s "tired of making history" and just wants a "normal Congress, but nobody knows what that looks like anymore."

"It is déjà vu all over again. Where is Yogi Berra when you need him?"

— Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, speaking about congressional negotiations over 2025 spending levels.

Last year, lawmakers accepted a "side deal" made by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden that boosted 2024 non-defense spending by about $69 billion above what was called for in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to a total of about $773 billion. Some Republicans tried to wiggle out of that hand-shake deal, but Speaker Mike Johnson ultimately agreed to abide by the agreement, with minor tweaks. Now the same story is repeating itself, with Republicans saying the side deal applied only in 2024 and should not factor in when setting 2025 spending levels.

The dispute adds up to a major difference in spending. House Republicans have proposed non-defense spending, without the side deal, of about $711 billion in 2025. With the side deal included, as Democrats are seeking, non-defense spending would be about $778 billion.

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