Gang of Eight Republicans Join Senate Dems to Kill Border Security Fence

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Immigration Bill

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the four “Gang of Eight” GOP senators, joined Senate Democrats on Tuesday to kill an amendment to their immigration bill that would have required a double-layered fence to be built along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was the only other Republican to join the four Gang of Eight members who voted against the border security fence. Even Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who have indicated some support for the Gang of Eight bill, bucked Rubio, McCain, Flake, Graham, and Murkowski in favor of the border security fence. Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas also supported the border security fence.

The amendment, offered by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), would require that current law from several years ago actually be enforced and that a border fence be built. The previous law which passed on a bipartisan basis with 80 votes out of the U.S. Senate in 2006 had the support of then Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrat stalwarts. 

On the floor of the senate, Thune said “I’m not suggesting for a minute that it is the only solution, the cure-all, the panacea that’s going to address this issue, but I think it is something that is very, very real, very tangible, very visible.”

“It is something that we have made a commitment on to the American people and I think it’s something that we ought to follow through on,” Thune said.

Thune added that a fence as a part of larger border security plan “ought to be a requirement, a condition if you will, on this legislation before some of these other elements come to pass.”

In a statement after the amendment was killed, Thune said that while America’s “immigration system is broken and must be fixed,” broken promises from Congress do not help in fixing the issue. “Unfortunately, each time Congress has tried to fix our immigration system, promises to secure our border are never upheld,” Thune said. 

“The completion of the fence required by current law would be a tangible demonstration that Congress and this administration are serious about border security," he explained. "I am disappointed the Senate missed this important opportunity to communicate to the American people that we are serious about securing our border and enforcing the laws that we pass.”

Last week when she tried to argue against Thune, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) mistakenly claimed Thune's home state of South Dakota bordered Canada, precluding him from commenting on security issues concerning the Mexican border. Landrieu also said a border security fence was “dumb,” even though she also voted for one in 2006.

The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan noted after the amendment’s failure that despite current law requiring hundreds more miles of double-tier fencing along the border, it currently “now has 651 miles of barriers, but only 36 miles are at least double-tier fencing.”

“Another 316 miles are single-tier pedestrian fencing, and the rest — 299 miles — are vehicle barriers that still allow wildlife, and people, to cross,” Dinan wrote.


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