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A deal that took nearly three months to negotiate went down in defeat yesterday in the U.S. Senate, just three days after its text became public. In a vote that needed 60 senators to agree to begin consideration of the Biden administration’s $118 billion request for spending on Ukraine and Israel aid, border items, and other priorities, only 49 voted in favor, with 50 opposed.

In October, congressional Republicans refused to allow the spending measure to move forward unless it included language changing U.S. law to make it harder for migrants to access asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. A group of senators launched negotiations before Thanksgiving, coming up with a set of measures that outraged both migrants’ rights defenders and progressive Democrats who feared people would be harmed, and conservative Republicans who wanted it to go further.

In the end, only four Republicans voted to begin debating the bill: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and the Republicans’ chief negotiator, James Lankford of Oklahoma. Even Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who had vocally backed Lankford’s negotiating effort, voted “no.” Five Democrats voted “no.” (Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) had to change his vote to “no” for procedural reasons allowing a reconsideration of the bill.) They were Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Alex Padilla of California, and Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont, who opposed the unconditional Israel aid in the bill.

As it nears a two-week recess, the Senate is paralyzed as Republicans are divided about whether to consider a spending bill without the asylum-restrictions deal attached to it, which is what Democrats had initially sought. One possible outcome for considering such a “clean” bill might be a debate process that allows votes on Republican-sponsored amendments seeking to limit asylum and perhaps other legal migration pathways.

Senate Republicans plan to meet this morning “to plot a path forward,” the Associated Press reported.

News analyses indicate that President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign will make the border deal’s failure a central point of attack against Donald Trump and the Republican Party this year, or at least a way to blunt Republican attacks on Biden’s border and migration policies.

Following the border deal’s legislative failure, the Biden administration is considering “executive action to deter illegal migration across the southern border” before migration inevitably rises again, two U.S. officials told NBC News. The article does not specify what these actions might be, though they “have been under consideration for months” and “might upset some progressives in Congress.”

The likelihood of migration rising again, after a sharp reduction in January, is strong. In Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector, the sector chief tweeted that agents apprehended 8,659 migrants during the week of January 31-February 6. That is more than any week’s apprehensions in the sector during December 2023, which was a record-setting month for the entire border.

Recent years’ immigration increases will add over $7 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next ten years, raising U.S. government tax revenues by $1 trillion, according to projections published by the Congressional Budget Office.

As the Biden administration reinstates some sanctions on Venezuela, two scheduled flights deporting Venezuelan migrants back to Caracas have been canceled since last week, the New York Times reported.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel interviewed migrants in the Darién Gap alongside Panamanian authorities in December, and “not one claimed fear of political persecution,” according to agency communications leaked to conservative reporter Ali Bradley.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The American Immigration Council published a thorough analysis of the now-defunct Senate border deal. “What we have seen, time and time again, is that adding additional penalties or complications to the process for asylum seekers once they arrive in the U.S. immiserates those asylum seekers without having a lasting impact on overall border arrivals.”

If President Biden were to confront Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) by federalizing the state’s National Guard, he would have to invoke the Insurrection Act, explains Joseph Nunn of the Brennan Center for Justice at Just Security. While doing so “would almost certainly pass legal muster,” Nunn counsels against it for now, as it “should be a tool of last resort.”

Fentanyl addiction and overdoses have reached crisis levels in Tijuana and some other Mexican border cities, Will Grant reported at the BBC.