WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are attaching a condition to passing another $10 billion in COVID relief funds saying they want to force a Senate vote on the Biden Administration’s plan to end two years of pandemic restrictions on immigrants seeking asylum at the border.
The Biden Administration said Friday that it will lift Title 42, a policy first enacted by President Donald Trump that essentially closed down the United States asylum system at the border because of the pandemic.
“On the COVID package, which has been negotiated at a $10 billion level,” McConnell said in a press conference. “It will require several amendments in order to get across the floor.”
When McConnell was pressed by reporters about what he had in mind, he added, “I think there will have to be an amendment on Title 42 in order to move the bill.”
That could complicate efforts to pass the COVID relief package because at least five moderate Democratic Senators, like many Republicans, are on record opposing the end of the Title 42 policy.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had hoped to pass the COVID-19 relief legislation this week. He objected to the new roadblock.
“The bottom line is this is a bipartisan agreement that does a whole lot of important good for the American people,” Schumer said. “It should not be held hostage for an extraneous issue.”
McConnell is also weighing in Supreme Court nominations. He was asked if he would commit to allowing a vote on a Supreme Court nominee if Republicans take over the majority next term.
McConnell famously refused to allow a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in the final year of Obama’s presidency. That allowed Trump to fill the seat when he took office. McConnell said he won’t reveal any sort of strategy if his party becomes the majority.
“What I can say with great certainty is that the present that ran as a moderate but has governed as Bernie Sanders would have to spend the last two years of his term being a moderate,” McConnell said.
Even though a final vote hasn’t happened yet, Democrats are already celebrating a victory for current nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. During a procedural vote to get Jackson’s nomination out of committee, they received the support of three Republican Senators.
“The stage is set. People can delay in terms of time but they can’t delay the vote and we know the vote is going to pass with bipartisan support,” Schumer said.
Schumer said that a final vote on Jackson’s nomination could take place “as soon as Thursday.”