Negotiations surrounding the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package have stalled in the Senate as Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) Title 42 amendment has put a wrench in the process, leading some senators to reportedly discuss a short-term funding bill instead.
Title 42 is an immigration policy that makes it easier for the federal government to send border crossers back to their native countries. Initially implemented by former President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic, a federal judge recently ordered President Joe Biden’s administration to phase out the program by December 21.
However, following an emergency application filed by a coalition of 19 Republican-led states, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts recently halted that lower court’s order to end Title 42, leaving the program’s fate in the federal judiciary’s hands.
Sen. Lee’s Title 42 amendment ties funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Executive Secretary to the Biden administration keeping Title 42 in place, Politico reported.
Despite Democrat Senate Leader Chuck Schumer’s hopes to bring a vote before the Senate floor on the omnibus bill on Wednesday, Lee’s Title 42 amendment is “causing big problems” in the Senate, ABC News’s Trish Turner reported.
No more votes in the Senate tonight. Omnibus in trouble. Title 42 amendment causing big problems.
— Trish Turner (@caphilltrish) December 22, 2022
“Omnibus hits turbulence over a GOP Title 42 amendment that could pass the Senate and sink the legislation in the House,” NBC reporter Sahil Kapur tweeted. “Votes are delayed, not happening tonight as expected hours ago.”
Omnibus hits turbulence over a GOP Title 42 amendment that could pass the Senate and sink the legislation in the House. Votes are delayed, not happening tonight as expected hours ago. https://t.co/O9fFdKaogi
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 22, 2022
Senate Democrats want a vote on Lee’s Title 42 amendment to reach the 60-vote threshold before it can be included in the omnibus spending package. However, Senate Republicans want the vote to pass with a simple 51 majority vote.
With several Senate Democrats in support of Title 42, Lee’s amendment could make it into the bill at the lower threshold.
One Senate Democrat aide reportedly called Lee’s amendment a “poison pill” that would “kill the bill in the House,” if adopted.
More from a Senate Dem aide: “Sen. Lee’s amendment is a poison pill which if adopted would kill the bill in the House.”
Translation: House Dems won’t accept an omnibus that extends Title 42 authority.
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) December 22, 2022
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized his Democrat colleagues for failing to allow Lee’s amendment a vote.
“It is outrageous that Senate Democrats are refusing to allow a vote on @SenMikeLee amendment to extend Title 42 expulsion authority,” Graham tweeted. “The Lee amendment is relevant to the underlying legislation and represents good policy for the United States.”
“If this bill fails because Senator Lee was not allowed a vote on extending Title 42, it will be one of the lowest points in the history of the United States Senate,” Graham added.
If this bill fails because Senator Lee was not allowed a vote on extending Title 42, it will be one of the lowest points in the history of the United States Senate.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 22, 2022
Schumer warned that if no agreement could be reached, he would file cloture on the omnibus spending package, which would set up a vote for Friday, December 23, pushing the government funding process into next week.
And there are tons of problems with this
1) McConnell says tomorrow is his deadline
2) If schumer files cloture, that takes everything into next week basically. https://t.co/6sd49JKKAK
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 22, 2022
However, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been adamant about negotiations reaching a deal before Thursday, December 22, because he intends “to be on the road going home” on December 23.
On Wednesday, McConnell reminded reporters about his upcoming December 22 deadline, telling Turner, “that’s tomorrow” when she asked if his deadline still stood.
With Lee’s Title 42 amendment derailing negotiations at the last minute, there is reportedly “growing talk” on the Hill about the possibility of passing a short-term continuing resolution funding bill to fund the government until February, according to Hill reporter Alex Bolton.
Senators have been told they can go home and no votes are expected tonight, which means no omnibus vote soon.
There’s growing talk of a CR until February, per Senate GOP source.
— Alex Bolton (@alexanderbolton) December 22, 2022
If Congress passes a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government until February, it would give Republicans a huge victory in the government funding negotiations as they will regain control of the House majority at the start of the next Congress in January.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republican nominee for the next Congress’s speaker of the House, strongly opposed the lame-duck Congress passing a long-term spending package.
The government will run out of funding and shut down on Friday if Congress takes no action before then on the spending package.
Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.
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