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Friday, May 17, 2024 - 07:14 PM


First Published in 1994


Can Congress Finish Their Checklist?

US Capitol Building 2023

Congress is trying to tie up loose ends before leaving town this week. Securing the border, passing the defense authorization bill, providing supplemental aid to Israel and Ukraine, and extending the Foreign Surveillance Act are the outstanding issues that Members must either reach an agreement on or leave unresolved when they leave Washington for the rest of this year.

Republicans continue to advocate for the passage of strong border security legislation as tens of thousands of illegal immigrants pour over our border daily and even liberal-run sanctuary cities decry the influx.  Republicans, after being thwarted by the Democrats all year, are tying additional aid to Ukraine to acceptance of real border security measures. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the White House this week to ask for more money (in addition to the $113 billion he has already received). President Joe Biden falsely blames House Republicans for the holdup. However, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has been clear about his expectations:

My message to him will be the same as it’s been to the President. This is an important battle for all the reasons we know, but I don’t think it’s a radical proposition to say that if we’re going to have a national-security supplemental package, it ought to begin with our own national security.

Speaker Johnson is insisting the House-passed Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2) be added to the Ukraine funding bill. He also has repeatedly asked the White House to detail the purposes for which this new funding will be used.  He has yet to receive a response.

Sadly, some Senate Republicans are moving away from H.R. 2, instead attempting to come up with “compromise”  immigration language but it hasn’t been productive. Due to concerns with watered-down policies, Eagle Forum joined a coalition letter to the Senate expressing our disapproval of weakening the H.R. 2 language. The letter states:

There is no reason Members of the House and Senate should accept anything less than the provisions of H.R. 2. Watering down its provisions, simply as a means of obtaining enough votes for other policy priorities, should not guide the Senate’s efforts here. The goal should be to end this border crisis.

Eagle Forum has since supported Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment to the Ukraine and Israel supplemental that inserts H.R. 2 language. Eagle Forum President Kris Ullman stated:

For far too long, illegal immigrants have exploited loopholes in the American immigration system. The Biden administration has been instrumental in causing the havoc we all see at our southern border by allowing historic numbers of illegal immigrants to not only enter the US but to drain resources and overwhelm cities and towns across the country. Republicans in the House united to pass H.R. 2, legislation that provides real solutions to the crisis at hand. It is imperative to support Senator Ted Cruz’s amendment that will add H.R. 2 to the National Security Supplemental.  Anything less than these strong provisions is unacceptable to grassroots Americans who are relying on Congress to provide real border security.

The Biden Administration tried to throw Republicans a bone by suggesting it would be willing to support a new border authority to expel migrants without asylum screenings.

 In addition, they offered to expand deportations of immigrants who fail to show up at their asylum interviews or hearings. To be clear, this is what the Biden administration should be doing! These are not new or revolutionary policies. Yet even these measly measures are unacceptable to many Democrats and not enough for many Republicans.

The most non-controversial piece of the supplemental spending bill is aid for our ally Israel. The House has already passed The Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6126),  a fully offset stand-alone bill to provide Israel with $14.3 billion in aid. The Senate Leadership refused to bring this bill up for a vote as Democrats want to link Israel aid with that for Ukraine and the border security measures. All three issues could move forward in one bill this week if the House, Senate, and White House can all agree on language, although this is unlikely.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 “NDAA” (H.R. 2670), which expires on December 31st, is still not finished. The final bill that emerged from the House and Senate conference committee is extremely disappointing to conservatives. Major provisions included in the House version including bans on taxpayer-funded transgender surgeries, drag queen shows and story hours, Chief Diversity Officers, and certain climate change policies initiated by the Biden administration were eliminated from the final bill. The repeal of the Department of Defense’s policy to reimburse abortion travel expenses that Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) fought so hard for was stripped from the bill as well. All these necessary policies were traded for a simple reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) – a move that is opposed by not only the House Freedom Caucus but conservatives in the Senate as well. Eagle Forum has alerted House and Senate Republicans that we are scoring against the final passage of the NDAA. The Senate passed the conference report Wednesday evening by a vote of 87-13, and the House will take it up on Thursday.

With the Christmas holiday over a week away, our elected officials are anxious to go home. It is critical that they not make hasty decisions during this time. Republicans must remain firm on their campaign promises and not agree to policies that will continue the border crisis, fuel a never-ending war in Ukraine, and weaken our military readiness.