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(WASHINGTON) — The Senate will vote Thursday for the second time in three months on a border security measure negotiated earlier this year by a bipartisan group of senators after Republicans blocked the bill from advancing earlier this year at the direction of former President Donald Trump.

Both political parties’ elbows are trying to establish themselves as tough on border security ahead of the 2024 election.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced over the weekend plans to bring the legislation back up for a stand-alone vote, after the measure earlier had been tied to aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Schumer said in floor remarks Wednesday that the bill will present his colleagues on both sides of the aisle with a chance to demonstrate whether they’re serious about fixing the challenges on the southern border.

“Senators face an important decision: will both sides come together to advance a bipartisan border security bill, or will partisanship get in the way yet again?” he said.

The vote Thursday, which would require at least 60 senators to support moving forward with the legislation, will almost certainly fail. Republicans are expected to vote against as a bloc, as many, including the Republican who helped draft it, have alleged that the vote is a purely political effort by Democrats to distract from President Joe Biden’s record on the border.

“The bill is no longer a bill and now it’s just a prop,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who co-wrote the bill alongside Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy and Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. “And that’s been my frustration. We wrote it to be a bill to try to actually solve the problem.”

Lankford said Wednesday this latest push to pass the legislation he once championed has become all about “messaging” for Democrats.

“No one really seems to want to have a serious conversation on it. At some point we’ve got to be able to do the basics,” Lankford said, signaling willingness to renegotiate a paired down version of the bill. “But no one seems to want to sit down and really be able to work it out right now,”

How did we get here?

Serious discussions about a bipartisan border security package first began in the late fall of 2023 after Senate Republicans, looking to capitalize on interest in securing additional foreign aid to Ukraine, said they would not support advancing a foreign aid package unless Congress passed serious legislation to regulate the Southern border.

Murphy, Sinema and Lankford huddled behind the scenes for months before ultimately unveiling their $20 billion proposal for the border that increased immigration restrictions and enforcement and implemented new migrant policy.

That package was originally meant to be tied to a broader national security supplemental that included aid to foreign allies Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in an effort to secure the necessary Republican votes to pass foreign aid.

Though bipartisan talks were initially championed by Republicans, things began to falter after Trump, flexing his grip on the party ahead of the 2024 election, urged Republicans to block the legislation if it was anything less than perfect.

During a campaign rally in January, Trump told senators to “blame it on me” if the bill failed.

Republicans quickly fell in line with Trump, and by the time the bipartisan group unveiled their product, its fate was all but sealed.

During a vote to advance the legislation, all but four Republicans voted against moving forward with the combined border and foreign aid package.

Democrats fiercely accused Republicans of cow tailing to their presumptive presidential nominee who they alleged wanted to preserve the crisis at the border to use as a campaign issue. Republicans meanwhile said the bill did not go nearly far enough to address the border crisis.

In floor remarks Wednesday, Murphy, the top Democratic negotiator, offered curt analysis of why the bill failed.

“Donald Trump killed it,” Murphy said. “Donald Trump told Republicans their party would be better off if the border was a mess.”

The Senate did eventually rubber stamp billions in foreign aid to Ukraine and other foreign allies in the weeks that followed, but the painstakingly negotiated bipartisan border provisions languished.

That is until now.

Political finger pointing on both sides ahead of current vote

Schumer’s move to once again attempt passage of a border bill comes in late May of an election year when immigration and border security are top issue for voters on both sides of the aisle.

The fraught political environment has done little to warm bipartisan negotiations over the border, and in the lead up to Thursday’s vote, each party has accused the other of playing politics.

Democrats for their part say that the bipartisan bill is a serious proposal crafted with Republican input, and that Republicans are too easily swayed by Trump.

During a press conference Wednesday Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said Republicans ought to “spare us the crocodile tears” on the border and quit refusing to work in a bipartisan way to advance provisions they insisted be negotiated.

“It is the bill that they demanded, that we negotiate. It is a bill that it is fair to characterize as the toughest bipartisan border bill in generations, and so if any Republican votes no tomorrow then they forfeit their right to discuss the border and to turn it into a partisan political issue,” Schatz said. “We stand ready to actually fix this thing, we stand ready to work on bipartisan basis we did work on a bipartisan basis.”

The White House has been in communication with all four Congressional leaders, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Mike Johnson, ahead of the vote.

“In these calls, President Biden reiterated that Congressional Republicans should stop playing politics and act quickly to pass this bipartisan border legislation that would add thousands of Border Patrol agents and personnel, invest in technology to catch fentanyl and combat drug trafficking, and make our country safer,” the White House said in a statement earlier this week.

Despite the push from Democratic leadership, the bill will likely be rejected by even some in the Senate Democratic caucus, especially by some progressives. Schumer has acknowledged as much, which is why he said the bill needs bipartisan support.

But Republicans take a less rosy view, and say Schumer is holding a vote on a bill he knows will not pass to try to distract from Biden’s border record.

“He’s [Schumer] gonna do these sort of political messaging bills because he knows he’s underwater in a couple of states and he’s trying to create a political foothold for some of his incumbents,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, said Wednesday.

The vote may indeed provide cover for several moderate Democrats up for reelection this cycle in increasingly conservative states, including Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who will likely vote in favor of the bill.

Tillis called it a “miscalculation” on Schumer’s part to try to advance the bill, which House Speaker Mike Johnson has already said would go nowhere in the House if the Senate were to vote to move forward on Thursday.

And some Republicans had even harsher words.

“This is an election-year political stunt designed to give our Democratic colleagues the appearance of doing something about the problem without doing anything at all,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. said.

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