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Biden to governors: Tell lawmakers opposing border deal to ‘show a little spine’

President Biden on Friday made an extended case for passing a bipartisan border security deal brokered in the Senate as he hosted roughly 30 governors at the White House.

Immigration was a key component of the reception for governors, with fact sheets laying out details of the Senate deal placed on tables where the governors were seated. After opening with comments on the war in Ukraine, Biden pivoted to the topic of border security.

“Folks, Congress has had a long, proud bipartisan history on immigration reform and abiding by our international treaty obligations, which we’ve signed, related to immigration. These reforms made America a nation of laws, a nation of immigrants, and the strongest economy in the world,” he said.

“But something changed. Over time, our laws and our resources haven’t kept up with our immigration system, and it’s broken. And our politics has failed to fix it,” the president added.

Biden urged governors with a stake in the issue to apply pressure to holdouts who have said they would not support the bill, noting it could benefit states in need of temporary workers as well as those dealing with an influx of migrants.

“If this matters to you, matters to your state, tell your members of Congress that are standing in the way, show a little spine,” Biden said. “Pass the bipartisan security bill, not withstanding you may reap the wrath of one or more of your colleagues.”

Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) led efforts to craft a border security bill unveiled earlier this month that would have given the federal government temporary authority to expel migrants when the average number of daily crossings exceeds a set threshold, end “catch and release,” raise standards for asylum screenings, and seek to process claims quicker, among other provisions.

Biden noted the bill had the approval of the Chamber of Commerce, the head of the Border Patrol union and The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

“As we all know, petty politics intervened,” he said. “The Speaker of the House has refused to vote on the bill, even though, again, there’s significant support.”

The White House has hammered Johnson for his shifting position on the issue. The Speaker had said any Ukraine aid must be paired with changes to border policy, but he declared the border bill dead on arrival. He has since said a standalone bill with funding for Ukraine and other allies will not receive a vote because it did not contain desired border provisions.

In lieu of congressional action, the White House is weighing executive actions it can take to address the surge of migrants at the border.

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