US Congress prepares to vote on border security bill

What to Know in Washington: Biden’s Immigration Bill to Change | Bloomberg Government

US Congress prepares to vote on border security bill

The two bills the House passed last week were just the beginning of Democrats’ push to overhaul the immigration system, but political hurdles have slowed their next step in the effort before it even hits the uphill climb in the Senate.

House Democrats are gearing up to move a comprehensive measure championed by President Joe Biden, who proposed a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The bill was introduced last month by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and has support from both wings of the party.

It’s not on a fast track to the floor, however, as moderate members are seeking changes to the bill before signing on. In the House, every Democratic vote is critical thanks to the party’s slim majority, in which even a few dissenting members could sink it.

And senators from both parties are pessimistic about any immigration bill’s chances of overcoming a 60-vote filibuster, particularly as the administration deals with a surge of migrants from Central America coming across the U.S. border. Emily Wilkins, Genevieve Douglas and Shaun Courtney have more on the outlook for the effort.

U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence on March 17.

Biden to Visit U.S.-Mexico Border ‘At Some Point’: Biden said yesterday he plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border “at some point” for a first-hand look at conditions as the entry of migrants seeking refugee status in the U.S.

rises sharply.

The comment, made to reporters at the White House, came after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he’s not worried about setting a precedent on open borders by allowing thousands of unaccompanied minors to enter the country.

“At some point I will, yes,” Biden said about a border visit. Asked if he wanted to see first-hand what’s happening at overcrowded migrant processing centers, he added, “I know what’s going on in those facilities.”

The president’s schedule for the coming week, released by the White House, shows no plans for a border visit through Thursday.

The influx of crossings at the U.S.

-Mexico border has become a political liability for the two-month-old Biden administration, which reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies.

Republicans blame Biden’s approach for encouraging a new wave of migrants while the administration says Trump left behind an inhumane and inadequate system that can’t keep up. Read more from Billy House.

Democrats’ Agenda

Democrats Inch Toward Possible Filibuster Move: The fatal shootings in Atlanta last week have led one of the Senate’s long-standing supporters of the filibuster rule to say she is now open to discussing potential changes to that process.

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is framing her potential shift as a back-up plan if a bipartisan deal can’t be struck on legislation passed by the House to improve background checks for gun purchases and to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Read more from Billy House and Steven T. Dennis.

  • On Friday, Biden called on Congress to send him new legislation on hate crimes and for Americans to “change our hearts” to combat racially motivated attacks on Asian people following the murders of eight people in shootings this week in the Atlanta area. Biden asked lawmakers to send him the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to sign, which would boost government reporting of the crimes and make its information more accessible to Asian Americans. Read more from Jordan Fabian.

Biden Urged to Defend Voting Rights: Biden faces growing pressure from his party’s left to wage an all-out defense of voting rights, as Republican-held statehouses pursue restrictions that would fall heaviest on Black voters who helped Democrats win the White House and both chambers of Congress. Some activists said Biden should reshuffle his priorities and set aside work on a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure and economic recovery plan to focus on fighting efforts to making voting more difficult. Read more from Mario Parker.

Biden Determined to Tax Rich: Biden’s economic team at the White House is determined to make good on his campaign pledge to raise taxes on the rich, emboldened by mounting data showing how well America’s wealthy did financially during the pandemic.

With Republican and business-lobby opposition to the administration’s tax plans stiffening, Democrats need to decide how ambitious to be in trying to revamp the tax code in what’s almost-certain to be a go-it-alone bill.

Interviews with senior officials show there’s rising confidence at the White House that evidence of widening inequality will translate into broad popular support for a tax-the-wealthy strategy. Read more from Nancy Cook.

  • Related: Hollywood Seeks to Be Film King Again With Expanded Tax Breaks

Also Happening on the Hill

Leaders Mull $2 Billion for Capitol Security: Congressional leaders are putting together a $2 billion special funding bill to strengthen security at the Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, according to multiple people familiar with the plan.

The discussions and drafting of the bill are not yet finished, and the total is approximate and subject to change, said two officials familiar with the talks. There is no set timing for release of the proposal and a vote on the funds. Read more from Billy House.

House to Confront Tech CEOs Over Online Spread of False Info: The chief executives of , Google, and are set to testify before Congress this week, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle prepare to press the companies over the spread of false information that contributed to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attacks.

Two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees will hold a joint hearing Thursday focused on the growth of misinformation and disinformation shared on big tech platforms.

The hearing will give lawmakers an opportunity to air their grievances, and discuss legislative efforts targeting the broad liability shield that protect the companies from the legal ramifications of dangerous content on their platforms. Read more from Rebecca Kern.

Letlow Wins Race to Succeed Late Husband: The widow of a congressman-elect who died from Covid-19 complications before he could take office won a special election to replace him in Congress, just hours after former President Donald Trump endorsed Juila Letlow. A second special election in Louisiana, to fill the seat vacated by White House adviser Cedric Richmond, will go to a run-off in April. Read more from Billy House.

  • A university official with a Ph.D. in communication, Letlow gave thought to running someday for political office as she campaigned in 2020 with her husband Luke Letlow. His unexpected death in late December required Julia Letlow to make a decision about becoming a political candidate much sooner and faster than she ever anticipated. Greg Giroux has more on Letlow.

Tom Reed Won’t Seek Re-election: Rep. Tom Reed won’t seek re-election to the House, the New York Republican said in a statement last night in which he apologized to a lobbyist who accused him of touching her inappropriately.

Reed said his behavior on a political trip in 2017 was “unprofessional” and “wrong,” adding that it occurred at a time when he was struggling with alcohol addiction.

The lawmaker, seen recently as a potential challenger to embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo — who faces his own allegations of improper conduct — won’t run for governor either. Read more from Steven T. Dennis, Billy House and Derek Wallbank.

  • Related: Cuomo Adopts Campaign Tactics to Cling to Job as Probe Proceeds

Around the Administration

Farmworker Clash Heads to Top Court: For almost a half century, labor organizers in California have had a unusual right: Under a state regulation, they can walk onto the premises of an agricultural business and recruit workers to join a union. The regulation is now before the U.S.

Supreme Court in a case that critics are looking to turn into a blockbuster decision strengthening property rights and curbing regulatory power. The court will hear arguments today on a constitutional challenge to a 1975 rule that grew the efforts of Cesar Chavez to give farm workers collective bargaining rights.

Read more from Greg Stohr.

Digital Dollar Momentum Worries Wall Street: Banks, credit card companies and digital payments processors are nervously watching the push to create an electronic alternative to the paper bills Americans carry in their wallets, or what some call a digital dollar and others call a Fedcoin.

As soon as July, officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which have been developing prototypes for a digital dollar platform, plan to unveil their research, said James Cunha, who leads the project for the Boston Fed. Read more from Joe Light.


Considers Climate Benchmark for Wall Street: The Biden administration is considering ways to push the global finance industry to consistently account for carbon dioxide emissions and green investments, people familiar with the matter said. The Department of the Treasury is working on measures to improve companies’ environmental impact disclosure, according to the people. Read more from Jessica Shankleman, Saleha Mohsin and Jennifer A. Dlouhy.

Austin Visits Afghanistan as Troop Deadline Nears: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan yesterday and said the Central Asian nation’s violence remains high as Biden weighs the future of the U.S. troop presence.

Biden is under pressure to decide whether to abide by an Afghan peace accord reached during Trump’s final year that seeks to bring home the 2,500 U.S. troops now stationed there by May 1, a deadline Biden has said “could happen” but would be “tough” to meet.

Read more from Peter Martin and Henry Meyer.


-China Talk Without Clear Path Forward: U.S. and Chinese officials traded acrimony and accusations over two days of talks in Anchorage, Alaska, that both sides hope will clear the air. Now the real work begins. While Americans portrayed the talks as a good chance to exchange views, they left Alaska without any clear path forward on issues from tariffs and human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong to cyber attacks and the long roster of Chinese corporations at risk of being delisted from U.S. exchanges. Read more from Nick Wadhams.


Seeks Stronger Defense Ties With India: The U.S. sought to further strengthen defense cooperation with India as part of Biden’s push to develop closer ties with Asian partners amid widening differences with China. Secretary Austin held talks with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss opportunities to elevate the U.S.-India defense partnership through regional security cooperation, military interactions and defense trade.

Read more from Sudhi Ranjan Sen and Archana Chaudhary.

U.K. Talks Can Build on Trump Plan: Trade talks with the U.S. will seek to build on “well-channeled lines” established during discussions with the Trump White House while seeking to incorporate new priorities favored by Biden, the U.K.’s envoy to Washington said. Read more from David Wainer.

Khamenei Says No Rush on Nuclear Deal: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country was in “no hurry” to revive the nuclear deal and warned the U.S. its current policy toward the Islamic Republic was doomed to fail unless sanctions are totally removed. Read more from Arsalan Shahla and Golnar Motevalli.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at; Brandon Lee in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at; Loren Duggan at; Michaela Ross at


9 bills from guns to George Floyd to the ERA wait in the Senate: Will any get enough Republican support to pass?

US Congress prepares to vote on border security bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers speak on Capitol Hill ahead of passage of an immigration bill in the House. (March 18) AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., lauded all the bills the Democratic-led House passed in the first few months of 2021 as “just wonderful” on Friday.

“We were very pleased this week we were able to pass legislation,” Pelosi reiterated during a news conference. 

Since the new Congress started in January, the House has passed at least two dozen bills that now await Senate action. A number of these provisions address major Democratic aims on immigration, elections, women's rights and gun control.

“As a freshman, it is marvelous to be able to come to Congress and get stuff done with the Democrats,” Rep. Teresa Leger-Fernandez, D-N.M., said at the news conference.

But despite the celebratory feeling from some House Democrats, the bills face grim odds as they continue to accumulate at the Senate doors. 

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was majority leader, he proudly called himself the Grim Reaper – the one who held the scythe in the chamber where the desires of Pelosi’s House majority go to die – for this very reason.

And though he is no longer the most powerful man in the Senate, and the GOP is in the minority, McConnell and Republicans have cast much doubt about the future of the legislation passed by the House.


Most of the legislation passed in the House was done largely along party lines and now faces a 50-50 Senate and a legislative hurdle called the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome. This means that without at least 10 Senate Republicans joining all 50 Democrats, legislation will not make it to President Joe Biden’s desk to become law. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to his office after speaking on the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

Schumer said Friday on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that he prefers “Republicans join us” in passing the legislation. 

“And we will give them a chance, we’ll put things on the floor. Because there are a number of my colleagues that say let's give them a chance,” he continued. But he said “failure is not an option” when asked about the filibuster.

Slamming McConnell's “legislative graveyard” and calling the minority leader's warnings “blustery threat credence” Schumer said: “We're not going to be diverted. We're not going to be deterred… Mitch McConnell can do all the threatening and bluster he wants. It's not going to stop us.”

Here's some of the legislation the House has passed that now awaits action in the Senate. 

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The legislation would create a pathway for undocumented farmworkers to earn a green card.

It would also create a process to earn temporary status as Certified Agricultural Workers for people who have worked at least 180 days in agriculture over the past two years. Spouses and children could also apply for temporary status under the act.

More: Immigration bill creating green card process for farmworkers passes House, legislation now goes to Senate

The bill cleared the chamber in a bipartisan 247-174 vote. Thirty Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill. One Democrat, Rep Jared Golden of Maine, voted against the legislation.

The American Dream and Promise Act 

The legislation would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

It would grant conditional permanent resident status for 10 years and cancel removal proceedings if people meet certain requirements. Those requirements include being physically present in the U.S.

on or before Jan. 1, 2021, being 18 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the U.S., and not having been convicted of crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking.

The American Dream and Promise Act passed 228-197.

More: House passes immigration bill creating pathway to citizenship for 'Dreamers'

Remove deadline for the ERA

The House voted largely along party lines to remove the expired deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment for women: the proposal to enshrine equality for women in the U.S. Constitution.

The ERA states, in part, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” 

The protections guaranteed by the ERA – providing specific protection for women as a class – are designed to end gender discrimination in broad segments, including employment, property rights and divorce.

More: House votes to revive Equal Rights Amendment for women despite legal questions

The ERA was passed by a majority-Democratic Congress on March 22, 1972, under President Richard Nixon. However, it failed to achieve ratification after it was sent to the states.

To be added to the Constitution, the ERA needed approval by legislatures in three-fourths – or 38 of the 50 – states by March 1979. It received approval in only 35 states by that date.

Recently, more states have approved the ERA — Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020 — reaching the minimum of 38 states required by Congress for addition to the Constitution.

Violence Against Women Act

The 26-year-old law is aimed at reducing domestic and sexual violence, and expired in 2018 after Democrats and Republicans could not agree on changes.

The latest version of the Violence Against Women Act passed the House by a vote of 244-172, with 29 Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in voting for its passage. 

However, passage remains impeded by gun control politics, and the “boyfriend loophole” prevention measure in the legislation. 

More: Democrats renewed the expired Violence Against Women Act, again. Here's what you need to know

H.R. 8 would expand background checks on individuals seeking to purchase or transfer firearms. It would not create a registry or other federal mechanisms for review.

Instead, the legislation would expand the cases in which a background check is required for the sale or transfer of a firearm, including for private individuals and groups, closing the “gun show loophole.” The requirements would apply to online sales.

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, passed 227-203. It received eight Republican votes, and one Democrat voted against it. 

More: House passes bills to expand background checks for gun sales and close 'Charleston loophole'

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prepares for votes in the House on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, a bill to help reform the immigration system.

at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 18, 2021. Pelosi paused for a reporter's question on the killings in Atlanta this week, where six of the eight victims were of Asian descent. (AP Photo/J.

Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA132 (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)

Enhanced Background Checks Act 

The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 would close the “Charleston loophole,” a gap in federal law that lets gun sales proceed without a completed background check if three businesses days have passed.

It is linked to a shooting in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist used the loophole to obtain firearms he used to kill nine Black people during a Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church. The bill would extend the initial background check review period from three to 10 days.

The legislation passed 219-210, with two Democrats opposed and two Republicans in support.

For the People Act

The House passed a sweeping anti-corruption and government ethics package that would fundamentally reshape how campaigns are run, how elections are conducted and how officeholders conduct themselves.

More: The House passed a sweeping voting rights act. What's in it?

The bill passed 220-210, with one Democrat joining all voting Republicans to oppose the bill. Two Republicans did not vote. 

The policing reform bill aims to bolster police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another by creating a national registry to track those with checkered records.

It also would end certain police practices that have been under scrutiny after the deaths of Black Americans in the last year.

It passed the House on a 220-212 vote. 

'We must act now': House passes police reform bill named for George Floyd

Equality Act

The Equality Act would amend existing federal civil rights laws to extend protections for LGBTQ Americans in what Democratic lawmakers and advocates say would make significant progress toward legal protections for all Americans.

The sweeping legislation, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, is one of Biden's top legislative priorities. 

More: What is the Equality Act?

The final vote was 224-206, with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the bill. 

Would any of the legislation get Republican support in the Senate?

Much of the legislation passed by the House has opposition from Senate Republicans. and several plan on introducing their own alternative legislation to some of the House-passed measures.

For example, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is working on a GOP alternative to the VAWA in the Senate, said she hopes to show there's a significant group of Republicans willing to work with Democrats to come up with a “good, modernized bill” that can overcome a filibuster.

Additionally, many Republicans argue that adding the ERA to the Constitution is unnecessary and will rollback anti-abortion policies.

More: Supreme Court agrees to hear death penalty case against Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who announced in January that she supported removing the deadline to ratify the amendment, has stressed she is wary of gathering the necessary Republican support, reiterating the concerns her colleagues voiced in the House.

“On the Equal Rights Amendment, I wish that I could tell you that we had more Republicans support for that at this point in time. We continue to work on that,” she said Tuesday.

On immigration, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told CNN on Sunday that he believes he is “close” to securing the necessary votes to surpass the filibuster. 

More: Migrant children pushed through immigration court alone as activists scramble to provide legal help

“I think I'll have some support. Whether it's enough remains to be seen,” he said regarding theAmerican Dream and Promise Act. 

But McConnell slammed the Biden administration and House Democrats for “taking up an amnesty plan” with the current situation on the border.

Over the past several weeks, the Biden administration has seen an increase in unaccompanied migrant children at the border and has struggled to quickly move the children from short-term holding facilities to temporary facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sen. Mike Lee opinion: H.R. 1 is not 'For the People'

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who has been working on competing legislation on police reform, characterized the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as a “partisan bill in an attempt to fix a non-partisan issue.”

House Democrats have expressed frustration with Senate Republicans, and have called for the elimination of the filibuster so they can move Democratic legislation with a simple majority vote. 

House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

, criticized McConnell and Senate Republicans who “seem to be hellbent on using archaic Senate procedural rules to allow the minority in the Senate to block any legislation designed to protect the voting and civil rights of our country’s minority citizens as we continue our pursuit toward the fulfillment of our vision of 'liberty and justice for all.'”

Here's what's coming up in the House 

Despite the bills piling up in the Senate, House Democrats are not planning on slowing down anytime soon. 

Democrats havereintroduced the Raise the Wage Act in the House to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The House passed the bill in 2019 that aimed to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, but it was not taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate at the time.

More: Generation Z workers push for $15 minimum wage as Congress, Biden debate pay for all Americans

Advocates of a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage scored a temporary victory in February when the House approved the increase in its vote to advance Biden's COVID-19 relief bill, but the Senate parliamentarian ruled the provision had to be removed and considered as a standalone bill or as part of other legislation.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said progressive lawmakers had met with White House officials on Wednesday, including chief of staff Ron Klain, and said the officials were “very committed” to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to secure the votes in the Senate to do so.

“There's a lot of conversations about how we get those additional votes,” he said. 

Pelosi also said Friday that the House would soon be taking up legislation to prevent future Muslim bans, the one that was implemented during the Trump administration.

More: President Biden ends Trump's Muslim travel ban, outlines what's next

Contributing: Associated Press; Nicholas Wu, Rebecca Morin, Matthew Brown, Maureen Groppe USA TODAY

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