Republican Will Vote Against His Own Border Bill

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said that he plans to vote against a bipartisan border bill that he helped create earlier this year.

Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, are planning to force a vote Thursday on the border package that was blocked by GOP lawmakers in February. Lankford, a Republican who was one three architects behind the legislation, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Tuesday that he thought the bill “is no longer a bill, now it’s a prop.”

“We spent four months sitting down in a bipartisan way to be able to work out, what do we think we can actually get passed?” Lankford said. “Obviously, I was not successful in getting something I can actually get passed, the problem still remains.”

“Everyone knows that this bill is not going to pass, and Senator Schumer is bringing it back up to try to bludgeon people,” the senator added.

Republican Will Vote Against His Own BorderBill
GOP Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 1. Lankford said he plans to vote against the bipartisan border bill when it’s brought for…

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The Context

Lankford worked alongside Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an independent, and Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, to craft the $118 billion border deal that was released to lawmakers in early February. The bill included a boost in hiring border patrol agents and increasing the detention capacity of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among other provisions.

The 370-page package was immediately met with pushback from Republicans, however, including former President Donald Trump, who called the bill “horrendous” and said it was a “very bad bill for [Lankford’s] career.” The final vote on the bill was 50-49. It needed at least 60 “yes” votes to advance within the Senate and head to the House floor.

Migration into the United States soared at the beginning of the year, and several politicians have described the immigration issue across the country’s southern border with Mexico as a “crisis.” Republicans have pressed the administration of President Joe Biden to address it before the general election in November. Trump has made immigration policy one of his key reelection hot buttons.

What We Know

Lankford accused Schumer of resurfacing the failed border bill as a “political” move during his appearance on CNN Tuesday, saying that to address issues along the border, “let’s at least sit down and figure out what will pass.”

“Let’s not just keep putting the same bills up over and over again that we know we’re not going to pass and pretend we’re doing something,” the senator said. “We’re not getting it solved. Let’s sit down, let’s actually work this out, and let’s get it done, because yesterday, with more than 5,000 people again that illegally crossed the border … This has got to stop.”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there have been over 1.5 million encounters along the southern border since the new fiscal year started in October. The states with the most migration deportation orders in fiscal year 2024 include New York, Texas and California.


Several Republicans denounced Schumer’s decision to revive the border bill for another vote, including Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who wrote to X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday afternoon that “Democrats can bring the border bill to the floor to try to change the narrative, but the American people won’t forget that there’s a crisis because of Joe Biden.”

Other senators on Tuesday touted H.R. 2, the border bill passed by the GOP-controlled House last year but was struck down in the Senate. Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn called the House legislation “the REAL border security bill” in a post to X. Senator Mike Lee of Utah also claimed that while “Biden’s broken borders are ground zero for heinous child trafficking and sexual assault,” the “Democrats’ do-nothing bill won’t change that.”

“H.R. 2 will,” Lee said on X. “We must secure the border.”

Lankford told Collins that his constituents have expressed frustration with both Democrats and Republicans over the fight to address immigration. While Republicans have pressed for more aggressive measures to curb entry into the U.S., Democrats have attempted to approach immigration reform in a more humanitarian approach by expanding entry options for migrations.

“Folks at home in my state—obviously I come from Oklahoma, it’s a conservative state—they’re upset with Democrats that they wouldn’t support H.R. 2, which passed the House [and] came over the Senate,” Lankford said. “No Democrat voted for that in the Senate.”

“They’re frustrated with Republicans because Republicans wouldn’t vote for the bipartisan bill,” the senator continued. “What I hear the vast majority of people in my state saying is, somebody do something, this is a problem. Both sides need to sit down and be able to figure out how to be able to solve it.”

What’s Next

Schumer said that Biden was a driving force behind bringing the border bill to the Senate floor on Thursday, writing on X that the “president called both [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell and [House] Speaker [Mike] Johnson and urged them to go forward with this bill.”

“All those who say we need to act on the border will get a chance to show they’re serious,” Schumer added.

Newsweek reached out to Schumer’s office for additional comment via email late Tuesday night.