[1/2] The U.S. Capitol is seen as Congress continues work on passing a $1.66 trillion government funding bill in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Negotiators in the U.S. Senate reached an agreement on how to proceed on a $1.66 trillion government spending bill, after a standoff on immigration, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday.
Progress on the bill — which includes $44.9 billion in wartime aid for Ukraine and bans the use of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on federal government devices — had halted after conservative Republican Senator Mike Lee introduced an amendment meant to slow immigration.
That move prompted Democrats to put forward a competing amendment that would boost funding for various law enforcement agencies that operate on the border.
“We have an agreement now,”Schumer said. “We will vote on all of the amendments in order and then vote on final passage. It’s taken a while, but it’s worth it.”
If the Senate passes the bill, it would then go to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and on to Democratic President Joe Biden for signature into law.
Lee’s amendment would require the United States to maintain a policy known as Title 42, a policy implemented under Republican former President Donald Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented hundreds of thousands of immigrants from seeking asylum. It grants border officials the ability to rapidly expel migrants to Mexico without a chance to seek asylum during public health emergencies.
The policy was set to expire earlier in the week, but the Supreme Court put the brakes on Title 42’s end, as it considers litigation brought by Republican-led states.
“The omnibus contains nothing to secure the border, and in fact contains language undermining border security,” Lee wrote on Twitter, referring to the spending bill. “Without an up-or-down vote on Title 42, every Senate Republican should oppose.”
Reporting by Gram Slattery and Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Washington-based correspondent covering campaigns and Congress. Previously posted in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Santiago, Chile, and has reported extensively throughout Latin America. Co-winner of the 2021 Reuters Journalist of the Year Award in the business coverage category for a series on corruption and fraud in the oil industry. He was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College.