Title 42 dispute threatens to hold up $10 billion COVID relief package

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) meets with reporters
Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) meets with reporters asking about President Biden’s proposed $5.8 trillion budget at the Capitol in Washington on March 29, 2022.

A $10 billion compromise COVID-19 relief bill is at risk of stalling in the Senate because of a partisan fight over whether to allow a vote on an amendment to reinstate the Title 42 restrictions that had been used to deny migrants’ asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.  

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned Republicans on Tuesday not to take the bill “hostage” by insisting on a vote to amend the bill with a provision to keep Title 42 in place.  

“The bottom line is this is a bipartisan agreement that does a whole lot of good for the American people: Vaccines, testing, therapeutics. It should not be held hostage for an extraneous issue,” he told reporters when asked whether Republicans’ insistence on the border amendment threatens passage of the relief bill.  

Schumer showed little inclination to give Republicans a vote on restoring Title 42, which would likely pass if set at a 50-vote threshold because at least five Democrats have already criticized Biden’s decision to lift it.  

“As I said, this is a bipartisan bill, it was negotiated in good faith. It should not be held hostage to extraneous, unrelated issues,” he reiterated.  

He negotiated the compromise package with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and agreed to drop billions of dollars for a global vaccination effort in an effort to pick up GOP support.  

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that he will insist on allowing a vote on an amendment to restore the Title 42 order, which the Biden administration announced last week it would lift. 

“Yeah, I think there will have to be an amendment on Title 42 in order to move the bill. There are several other amendments that we’re going to want to offer and so we’ll need to enter into some kind of agreement to process these amendments in order to go forward with the bill,” he said.  

McConnell, however, did not say whether he would push for the threshold for adopting the amendment to be set at 60 votes or 50.  

If adoption of the amendment is set at a 50-vote threshold, it has a good chance of becoming part of the relief package. That in turn would complicate the viability of the broader deal in the Democratic-controlled House.   

Five Democrats have criticized Biden’s decision to lift the order.  

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) called it a “frightening decision” while Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said it “would put at risk the health and safety of Arizona communities and migrants.”  

President Biden on Friday announced he would rescind the Trump-era health rule on May 23.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the Title 42 order at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but critics say it’s been kept in place for too long and now is being used as an excuse to ignore legitimate asylum claims.

Tags Chuck Schumer Coronavirus coronavirus funding COVID-19 COVID-19 funding Immigration Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Title 42

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