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Speaker Johnson sent the House immigration bill to Senate more than a year ago

Speaker Johnson sent the House immigration bill to Senate more than a year ago

The latest political narrative being proffered by Democrats and the complaint news media is that there is a good bill to secure the border coming out of the Senate that is being opposed by the Republican controlled House because President Trump does not want the border crisis solved before the election.  To inflate life into this narrative, they say that the Senate proposal is the most conservative and strongest immigration agreement ever –and that is the best possible action that can be taken at this time.  There is no alternative.  They say it will secure the border … period.  They accuse House Speaker Mike Johnson essentially of legislative malfeasance for saying that the Senate proposal is “dead on arrival in the House.

Weeell … there are political narratives based on spin and there are the facts – and they are rarely in agreement.  So, let us take a look at the facts surrounding the legislative efforts to secure the border – and see how the narrative stacks up with the facts.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the House passed a strong immigration bill and sent it over to the Senate.  The Senate has been talking about an agreement, but as of this writing has not produced an actual bill.

To bill or not to bill

Despite all the references to a Senate “bill” as an accomplished piece of legislation, we have to understand that nothing has passed in the Senate that can be sent to the House for consideration – or sent to the President for his signature.  There is a Bill under consideration that is subject to review, amendments, and further negotiations.  So, when they talk about a “bill” as a specific done deal, there is no such thing.

What seems to be less understood and less reported is that the House has actually passed an immigration bill – HR2 – more than a year ago. So, what happened to that piece of legislation.  Was it considered by the Senate?  Debated?  Did the Senate make changes and send it back to the House for consideration – as is the case with most bills that become laws.?  Was there a committee hearing?  A vote?  Nope!!

At the time, Senate Republicans believed HR2 would be a good starting point for meaningful negotiations.  Even though he conceded that the House Bill would not get the necessary 60 votes to overcome a possible Democrats filibuster, North Carolina GOP Senator Thom Tillis called it “a good starting point.”

However … Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared the House bill dead on arrival and blocked all consideration.  As they say, “He buried it.”  Rather than advance the negotiations regarding a growing national crisis, Scheme simply tossed the bill passed by the House into the Senate’s legislative dumpster. 

Now that Johnson says the Senate draft is not acceptable to the House, Democrats typically whine that Republican are obstructionists.  Really?

Trump’s influence

President Trump has called for the Senate proposal to be rejected.  But why?  That is where we get into the political narrative versus the facts.  Democrats say it is because the Republicans – and Trump – want the crisis at the border to continue because they see it as a campaign winner against Biden’s immigration policies that have so far created the greatest border and immigration crisis in American history.

It is equally arguable that Trump’s and House Speaker Johnson’s opposition to the Senate proposal is based on what is said to be in it – not campaign considerations.  In fact, the very foundation of the democrat narrative is specious since passage of a GOOD immigration bill supported by the GOP would give Team Trump a win.  Biden would still be the guy who created the crisis in the first place.

Biden had proposed legislation that would increase funding for border patrol agents and immigration judges.  Republicans rejected the idea because it further encourages illegal border crossing.  Democrats also proposed aiding the nations from which migrants were fleeing – believing that such action by the United States will encourage people to stay home.  This was also rejected as prohibitively expensive and doomed to failure.

There is a good case to be made that opposition to the  Senate proposal is based on legitimate problems with the provisions in the bill.  So, what is on the table for the Senate?

House Bill (passed) v. Senate Bill (proposed)

It is fair to look at what the Senate is proposing – and has some bipartisan support – and compare it to HR2 that has actually passed in the House and sits in the Senate.  It is important to keep in mind that both the House Bill AND the Senate proposaals are in the hands of the Senate to deal with.  The House has already done its job. 

So, what are the areas of agreement?  What is in HR2 and how does it compare  to the reported Senate proposals?  Where are the possibilities of compromise?

Let us take a look.

House Bill 2 was passed just as Biden allowed Title 42 to lapse.  The House reinstated that Trump-era provision since it dramatically reduced those allowed into the country.  Other provisions include:

  1. Prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from processing aliens arriving between ports of entry.  It does not close the border – on shuts down illegal crossings.
  2. Further restricts the requirements for asylum eligibility, and expands the scope of crimes that make a person ineligible.
  3. Prohibits DHS from providing money to NGOs to aide illegal crossings or provide housing and legal services to inadmissible aliens entering the United States.
  4. Ends catch-and-release.
  5. Reinstates the wait in Mexico policy.
  6. Requires the reporting of the number and nationalities of border crossers every month.
  7. Funding for additional construction of 900 miles of border wall.
  8. Acquisition of new technologies is estimated to cost $100 million.
  9. Retention bonuses for frontline border agents.
  10. Increase the number of border patrol agents, with emphasis on enforcement – 22,000 minimum by September 2025.
  11. Requires Border Control to access the criminal databases of nations from which migrants originate.
  12. Specifies what identification document are acceptable and not acceptable for boarding an aircraft.
  13. Requires Air and Marine operations of minimally 10,000 flight hours per par year and 24-hour drone surveillance along the border.
  14. Defoliating critical points along the banks of the Rio Grande.
  15. Grants to local law enforcement agencies with either an international land or water border.
  16. Expediting vetting and deporting.
  17. Asylum seekers would have to cross the border legally to be eligible to claim asylum and remain in the United States.
  18. Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to prepare reports on the costs incurred by communities impacted by migrant populations – and the feasibility of reimbursement.
  19. Requires the DHS Inspector General to prepare an annual report on the economic impact on border communities.
  20. Imposing higher standards to establish credible fears of persecution in their home nation as the basis for asylum.  Currently more than 80 percent of those admitted to the United States do not meet the qualification for asylum.
  21. There would be a $50 fee to apply for asylum.  That would produce $400 million dollars from the 8 million migrants who entered America since Biden took office.
  22. It cuts back on Biden’s “parole” program that allows those coming from specific nations – such as Venezuela, Haiti and Nicaragua — to enter and live in the United States for two years – and receive work permits – regardless of the eligibility for asylum.  This essentially circumvents the normal asylum process.
  23. Detention and punishment for individuals who bring underage individuals across the border illegally.
  24. It requires broader use of the E-Verify system to prevent illegal border crossers from taking jobs.

Whew!  This is only a portion of the detailed and highly technical provisions in HR2.  Supporters of the Senate proposal say their Bill is the strongest immigration bill in American history.  That is simply not true.  House Bill 2 arguably is.

The Senate.  The situation in the Senate is fluid since various provisions and various bills are being debated.  Since the Senae Bill is still under consideration and debate, it is not possible to give a definitive list of provisions.  However, there are some basics that have been covered by the news media.  The proposals with the broadest support – bipartisan, but not yet enough for passage – has a number of key features.  In promoting the Senate Bill, Republican Senator James Langford of Oklahoma outline the benefits.

  1. Increase the number of border patrol agents, with emphasis on processing.
  2. Increase the number of immigration judges.
  3. Increase the number of asylum officers to facilitate applications.
  4. Increase detention facilities to facilitate detention and deportation.
  5. End catch-and-release
  6. Speeds up the asylum process.

The poison pill

Unfortunately, Langford left out the most important provision – and one that many consider to be a poison pill.  It calls for shutting border, but only after 8,500 illegal border crossers have entered the United States in a single day – or after more than 5,000 illegal border crossers have entered the United States 5 days in a row.  By manipulating the daily counts and the get-aways, that could easily allow more than 2 million illegal border crossers being allowed into the country each year.  That never has been—nor should it be – an acceptable level.

The problem with the Senate Bill is that it legitimizes a large number of illegal crossings by quota – virtually ending any future effort to reduce the number further.  It is an insanely high number.

Jeb Johnson, former Director of Homeland Security under President Obama, once said that 1,000 border crossers a day is “a crisis.”  The Senate wants to fix that number at 5,000 per day or more.  Thanks to Biden rolling back virtually all of President Trump’s border control policies, the number of illegal border crossers has dramatically surged over three years since Biden took office — averaging 2.6 per year. Ironically, the Senate Bill would fix illegal crossings near that number.

In December, 2023, the daily average reached 10,000 per day.  According to the Senate, that would have triggered the shutting of the border.  But what does that mean?  They would actually stop any additional migrants from crossing and being processed?  If that is so easily done, why have they not closed the border in the past?

Summary

By comparison, the House Bill is the better measure if you really want to control the border.  The Senate proposals would only freeze and legitimize illegal border crossing at an unacceptably high rate.  It would also diminish all interest in future reforms to bring the border under control. 

Whether you believe House Republicans are rejecting the Senate proposals to help Trump win the election or not, it does not change the fact that what the Senate is offering is bad and should be rejected on the merits – or lack thereof.

There is still a chance that the Senate can produce a bill that would pass in the  House,l or take up and negotiate a compromise on HR2.  But if there is any chance at immigration reform at this time, we had better get it right.  All things considered, no legislation is better than bad legislation. 

So, there ‘tis.

Author Note:  At the time of this writing the Senate Bill has not been presented.  When it is, there will be a follow-up regarding the actual details.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

13 Comments

  1. Dan tyree

    Remember. The commiecrats was and is in charge of the senate

  2. FRANK STETSON

    Dan,
    doesn’t this vote require more than a simple majority meaning without some Republican support, it’s DOA in the Senate?

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … What is DOA in the Senate? HR3 that Schumer personally refused to allow to be considered. Are you raising a some sort of mythical vote count on a measure that Schumer would not even allow to be debated? A little more mental invention, Frank? Say hello to Alice for me — and I do not mean B. Toklas. Or maybe I do. Hmmm.

      • FRANK STETSON

        HR2 is DOA and will never pass Democrats in the House or the Senate.. Nor should it IMO, it’s an insult to Dems and Repubs know it. The House saw this in the House vote, they could call Schumer for a meet if they don’t understand DOA. Two R’s voted nay with all the D’s and the rest of the R’s said yea in the House. So, it’s tailor-made not made to pass, it’s made to make a point.

        The bill is poison to Democrats; however the E-Verify part could be broken out and passed if that is not yet included in the Senate bill. Although, the HR2 bill calls for a “verification system modelled on E-Verify” which are weasel-words for “time for a big budget to do-over.” I guess since e-verify results have some issues, they choose to weasel-word rather than plain-speak and say “make e-verify work as the law of the land.” Period. I think this part has a chance AND is the best hope to diminish illegals working in America. If they don’t come, you don’t need no stinking wall.

        HR2 has draconian restrictions on asylum and that all asylees be incarcerated before adjudication. Republicans would buy new jails but not new courts, ports of entry or improvements to either….. I believe they could get some traction here, even a quota, but this HR2 sucks, IMO.

        They wanted to re-launch the wall but this time sans any environment requirements. Yeah, that’s an icebreaker for Democrats. They responded by reading Hillary’s speeches out loud, like squeaky chalk on the chalkboard. Fact is e-verify will diminish a lot of illegal crossings, restricting asylum to ports of entry and improving access there can diminish the rest.

        They wanted to end many protections for children, re-establish long-term family detentions, more jails please. HR2 is un-American and just sucks, IMO.

        Missing from HR2 are any pathways to citizenship, no way to replace undocumented workers in critical industries like FOOD, while restricting asylum claims to ONLY allowed at ports of entry but they would not expand ports of entry (the main reason people try border jumping – ironically cruel, ain’t it).

        Many Republicans are saying HR2 or nothing; be careful what you ask for. Two actally voted against it, farm states probably. Anyone with half a brain would recognize how few Dems could support from this bill. Like shooving someone into a wall. But here’s the really fucked up part; the Dems have never been more amenable to more restrictions at the border. If the Republicans could learn how to change from “my way or the highway,” they had much they could have compromised on this bill which is DEAD as written with little room for compromise. Trump does not want any immigration bill, right now a fucked up border improves his bogus try for the Presidency. And he’s more that willing to fuck American up the ass to get there.

        I would recommend starting with the Senate bill, see what you can skinny in from HR2, you know my pick, and let’s pass some law.

  3. Joseph S. Bruder

    Interesting that Speaker Johnson sent “THE” immigration bill to the Senate (as your title states) “MORE THAN A YEAR AGO”, when Johnson only assumed office in October 2023, and before that was just another Trump-fluffer.

    • larry Horist

      Joseph S. Broder… My bad. One point for you on a technical error. But you lose on the big picture. HR2 was passed a year and a half ago and has been buried in the Senate by Schumer. That is the critical issue. You scored a point, but lost game … set … match.

      • Joseph S. Bruder

        I didn’t lose anything. Trump came out against the bill (so he can run on border issues) and now all the Republicans are suddenly against the bipartisan-negotiated bill. It’s pure politics. Republicans don’t want to solve the problems at the border. They dodged the blame when Trump did nothing, and now they want to block any progress and blame it on Dems. Ultimately, voters will see that Republicans are the Do-Nothing Party, and Republicans will lose. Even the people that went to the border in the Second Great Truck Caravan (a bus, 20-30 cars, and not a single truck) reported that “it’s not that bad, almost nothing happening there”.

        And I would disagree that Schumer buried anything. The House and Senate are two different chambers of government, each responsible for their own legislation. Only at the end of the process do they reconcile the differences. And if the whatever came out of the House was legislation, it would be HB2 (for House Bill 2), not HR2 (for House Resolution 2, which is just a meaningless opinion of the House majority). If they wanted the Senate to consider it, they would have passed a bill, but they never had even a simple majority that could agree on anything.

        Even now, the House could pass whatever it wants (assuming Johnson can convince any Republicans of anything) and send it to the Senate for reconciliation, but Johnson has no control over the Trump-fluffers.

      • FRANK STETSON

        Only Horist would be counting “points” as an outcome of a discussion……..

        We are in this together Larry, it’s not just about winning. It’s about learning, understanding and coming to a common consensus or disagreement, in civil disoourse and discussion.

        It’s not a graded debate.

        • larry Horist

          Frank Stetson … It is only an expression you ignoramus. How petty can you get in your obsessive desire to be a constant critic. And I love your sanctimonious lectures — from a guy who adheres to none of them. Every time you are called out for saying something stupid, you say your were only joking. I will accept that. You are nothing but a joke — a pathetic one, but a joke none the less. Based on what you write, I do not think we are all in this together. You and your imaginary Larry Horist are in a place all by yourselves. Enjoy.

  4. MJB

    The Bill was sent, but Johnson just became speaker in Oct of ‘23 so…. Please check your article for accuracy. When you don’t, you look like a fool. Your article should have been titled, “The House sent the immigration bill to the Senate a year ago”!

    • larry Horist

      MJB … you are correct, but too late. Bruder already pointed out the error in the headline. Mea Culpa. But the gist of the commentary still stands.

  5. FRANK STETSON

    Like sands through the hourglass, so are the sound bites from the politics of our lives. It used to be that many, from all sides of the aisle, tried to find what was the right choice for solving problems for the good of the nation, and try to convince others of our findings, they may differ, we may discuss, and together we would pick a path to move forward. Now, many of our leaders just want to win, to score points, to beat the other guy, and to trumpet our success at hurting someone else. Not good for the nation.

    The Republican House put a bill up that was so good that not one Democrat in the House could vote for it and even two Republicans defected. They are acting all prissy now because Schumer opted, legally, to not floor something that could not pass, not in a million years, not with a million amendments. Why even waste the nation’s time in debate.

    The Democratic Senate, with a member from each party, D, R, and I, is putting up a bill that was constructed to pass the Senate and might have passed the Senate until Trump, who had not seen the bill, rejected it out of hand and threatened anyone in the Trump party who differed. The R member who put up the bill has already been put on notice as Trump back-dated his support and attacked this previously Trump-endorsed Senator. Johnson, who had not read the bill, called it DOA and demanded his bill that can’t be passed, be passed. His way or the highway.

    Trump needs the boarder AFU’d to help his campaign of retribution at all costs, country be damned. Biden, and others, would like to do something to make things better. Even conservative things. There is much in the bill for both sides to like, there in much for either side to dislike, it’s the nature of compromise. Johnson might attempt to meld his most important desires from his bill, but claims it’s DOA so not going to bother to try. Just like Dems did to him, but after a vote, after they read HR2. His bill will not pass, never could, he’s known this for over a year. It’s a suck process operated by suck-wads and you wonder why we suck.

    Meanwhile back on planet reality, who is stealing your cheese if not the immigrants, the caddie driving welfare moms, and the Democrats?
    First, where are they? CA has about 20% of all illegals, 16% in TX, 7% in FL and NY, 5% in NJ, 4% in IL and GA, and 3% in MD, NC, AZ, and VA — that’s 75% of the total. If you’re in the other States, don’t cry to me about Argentinians.

    Per capita, % of total, the highest poverty states are MS, LO, WV, NM, AR, KY, AL, OK, NY, SC. All Republican, except NY. Also, beyond NY, not exactly undocumented strong but poverty central nonetheless. And that’s where our federal welfare dollars go. Red states. Mother fucking federal trough sucking Red States. Good neighbors, or drag on the nation?

    SNAP households – In total numbers, CA has the lead, followed closely by FL and TX which, combined exceed CA by close to double, then NY, PA, IL, Ga, MI, and NC. Looks pretty mixed, but if you add the numbers, it is pretty mixed with blue states getting a bit more in total, like .5%.

    TANF households — In total numbers of households, again CA for the lead, followed then NY, OH, FL, PA and WA. However, this time, all five don’t add up to CA.

    Medicaid looks like SNAP, CA in the lead followed by NY, TX and FL, which combined, blow CA out of the water. Then, PA and OH.

    So, again, in terms of households a good mix of red and blue with many not being undocumented heavy.

    When you look at all Federal Aid to the States, the picture for total dollars in similar: CA leads, followed by NY, TX, FL and PA. However, that’s population driven, so if you look at how much of your State budget the Fed provides: VT 36%, WV 34%, AK 34%, LO 33%, and SD 33%. That’s a lot of red in red states that cannot take care of themselves and a lot of blue states that have to cover for them. There’s your funding issue, not immigrants. And Bernie been berry berry goot to VT.

    That’s the kicker – which States take out more from the Federal Government than they put in. IOW, which states are dependent on other States for their existence and could not survive on their own. That’where red stands out:
    • 7 of the 10 states most dependent on the federal government were Republican-voting, with the average red state receiving $1.05 per dollar spent.
    • Twenty-nine states sent more to the federal government than they received, compared to just nine states in 2021. Of the states that sent more than they received, 52% were Democrat-voting and 48% were Republican-voting. NM wins, followed by WV, MS, AK, and KY — very red. And the biggest payers: NJ, WS, IL, CA, and UT — very blue.

    Bottom line: immigrants do not answer the question of who’s getting all the welfare dollars. Their drain looks to be minimal at a federal level. Many red states that do not have high numbers of illegals do although it’s a mixed game with CA having the most households. They just pay a lot of taxes too; they are still the number 4 biggest giver even after all that welfare goes out. Red states don’t pay a lot of taxes and often take much more than they receive.

    My point: I don’t care that Red States are poorer, with less education, lower wages, and more guns. I just want to help all make a better America. Work the Senate bill and make it so.

    I pulled from a lot of sources, different dates, years, etc. so consider much to be directional, not exact. The summary though: *https://www.moneygeek.com/living/states-most-reliant-federal-government/*

  6. Mike f

    Larry, Bottom line which (surprise) you overlooked is republicans don’t really want to solve the problem at the border (or at least trump doesn’t, which is the same thing currently). R’s said they needed a border bill to fund Ukraine (one of your desires unless you have already flip flopped on that). So the senate got to work on a bipartisan bill, which does not contain even close to all that D’s want. Trump says “don’t consider the bill, I won’t be elected if it passes” so his stooge in the house declares the bill dead on arrival. You say “HR 2 is a much better bill”, but that was submitted quite a while back, did not contain one of D’s biggies (dreamers), so was not discussed. Now, the dems have seen a real need to pass border legislation (both due to border issues and Ukraine) but after saying they required a bill, the house won’t consider it. That is not the way legislation is supposed to work in our government-if there are issues (such as the quantity of immigrants triggering a shutdown at the border) you change that part and send it back. However, in today’s trumplican party you just say “we won’t consider it because our god said no”. This is not going to play well politically and will cause many voters who might be on the fence Biden vs trump to realize that governance is impossible with republican control….