White House-backed border bill loses Democratic support as Schumer presses for new vote

A White House-backed effort to vote on a border security package in the Senate was dealt a blow when Sen. Cory Booker said he would not support the legislation, a move that shows Democrats are losing support within their ranks even as they try to shift blame to Republicans.

Prior to Booker’s announcement, the bill, which hits the Senate floor on Thursday, had not been expected to pass due to GOP opposition and Democratic divisions. Democrats are pushing a vote in an effort to put pressure on Republicans and argue that the GOP won’t act on the border, a key issue in an election year.

But Booker’s announcement brings attention to the divides within the Democratic Party over the hot-button issue, and any further Democratic defections could complicate, or undermine, the messaging effort by the party.

“In February, I voted to advance the bipartisan immigration deal to emphasize my commitment to continued debate on solving the challenges at the border, despite my serious concerns with some of the substance of the underlying legislation,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement released Tuesday. “I will not vote for the bill coming to the Senate floor this week because it includes several provisions that will violate Americans’ shared values.”

The initial bill from February, which was part of a broader bipartisan package that included foreign aid to US allies, failed 49 to 50 during a procedural vote after facing a torrent of attacks by top House Republicans and former President Donald Trump. At least 60 votes were needed to break the GOP filibuster and move the legislation ahead.

The “no” votes included Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Alex Padilla of California, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Independent who caucuses with Democrats, also opposed the measure. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voted no in a move that would allow him to make a procedural maneuver in the future to bring it back up.

Booker noted in his statement that he supported the original bill because it also provided “critical foreign and humanitarian aid,” a provision that doesn’t exist in the current bill because Congress moved separately to pass a foreign aid package without border provisions.

The Biden administration also faced a blow on Tuesday when the Senate approved a measure to roll back energy efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces. The energy standards are part of the White House’s efforts to combat climate change, but Republicans argued that the rules were too stringent and would be costly to consumers.

The Energy Department rule, which went into effect in February, would require manufacturers to build furnaces that convert 95% of their fuel to heat. Democrats, such as Markey, fiercely defended the rule as a critically needed update that would spur innovation and help the environment.

Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who sponsored the measure, argued the new rule would impact the majority of American households who would have to pay thousands of dollars for new furnaces.

Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema voted with Republicans in support of the measure, but with Biden expected to veto it, it’s unlikely to get the necessary two-thirds majority in each chamber to override the veto.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Kristin Wilson contributed to this story.

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