WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Immigration reform is emerging as a top issue in Congress’s battle over spending. Senate Republicans say they won’t approve funding for Ukraine without funding for border security, as well.
“We have a broken immigration system. We have a chance to do something on the border,” Senator Lindsey Graham said.
Republicans are demanding immigration reform be part of any larger security package.
Sen. Rick Scott says it’s about prioritizing US national security.
“I don’t think we ought to be doing anything with Ukraine, if we’re not willing to do the same thing with ourselves: Defend ourselves, secure our border,” Scott said.
Specifically, Republicans want to restart border wall construction, change asylum laws, and increase border agent pay.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says border reform is a sticking point for his party.
“Border security needs to be a part of this package if it’s going to move out of the Senate,” McConnell said.
Many Democrats say they’d also love to pass legislation to address immigration policies, but they’re skeptical of Republican plans.
“For so long we’ve seen people just play political games with this,” Sen. Raphael Warnock said. “It’s important for the border to be secure and it’s important for people to have a dignified pathway to citizenship.”
Sen. Mark Warner says the immigration bill House Republicans recently passed is too extreme.
“A right-wing wish list that would dramatically change the whole character of our country in terms of being a country that has any kind of friendliness to immigrants,” Warner said.
But lawmakers argue there is still room to find common ground.
“The devil is in the details, you got to do it right,” Sen. Tim Kaine said.
The Biden Administration is asking for more money to hire border agents and to upgrade technology at ports of entry to screen for drugs. Many Democrats support that request.
“Lets spend some of this border security money to interdict fentanyl and keep Americans safer in the process,” Kaine said.
“Count me in for a compromise,” Warner said.
Sen. Warner remains concerned that Ukraine aid is at risk. He says the U.S. should absolutely not abandon Ukraine.
“It would be a historic mistake,” Warner said.