The. $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that was released by Congress appropriators Monday has stalled in the Senate due to a Title 42 amendment that has been spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The delay has caused some lawmakers to consider a short-term funding bill in order to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the week.
Title 42 is a Trump-era immigration policy and public-health measure that was put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, which allowed border officials to deport illegal border crossers quickly back to their countries of origin. The current Biden administration has been ordered by a federal judge to phase out Title 42 by December 21.
Due to rising numbers of illegal migrants crossing the border and flooding not only border towns but also major cities across the country, a coalition of 19 Republican-led states has filed an emergency application to prevent Title 42 from ending by the end of the year. The application has been taken up by the Supreme Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts ruling last week to halt the cancellation of Title 42 while the application goes through the legal process.
The Title 42 amendment would require the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place in order for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Executive Secretary to receive funding.
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had hoped to push the omnibus bill through for a vote on Wednesday, Lee’s Title 42 amendment has caused the spending package to stall in the Senate.
Senate Democrats would like to see a vote on the amendment reach the 60-vote threshold before adding it to the omnibus package. Republicans, however, want the measure to pass with only the 51 votes required for a majority vote. Given that several Senate Democrats support Title 42, it is possible that the amendment will pass with a lower vote.
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Not all Senate Democrats support the amendment, with one aide referring to it as a “poison pill” which would “kill” the measure in the House.
Meanwhile, Democrat Senator Lindsey Graham was critical of fellow Democrats for not allowing a vote on the bill, Tweeting, “It is outrageous that Senate Democrats are refusing to allow a vote on @SenMikeLee amendment to extend Title 42 expulsion authority. The Lee amendment is relevant to the underlying legislation and represents good policy for the United States.” Graham added, “If this bill fails because Senator Lee was not allowed a vote on extending Title 42, it will be one of the lowest points in the history of the United States Senate.”
While Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been insistent that the Senate vote on the omnibus package prior to Thursday, Senate Leader Schumer has said that he will file cloture on the package and would arrange a vote for Friday.
The stalled negotiations and delayed vote have caused many at the Capitol to consider passing a short-term funding bill to keep the government funded until February. If no action is taken on the omnibus spending bill and no short-term funding bill is passed this week, the government will face a shutdown Friday.