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Biden voices support for Senate border bill with new 'emergency' powers

President Joe Biden says a new border security bill under negotiation in the Senate would give him "new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed." Photo by Ting Shen/UPI
President Joe Biden says a new border security bill under negotiation in the Senate would give him "new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed." Photo by Ting Shen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden has voiced strong support for a border security bill being negotiated by a bipartisan team in the Senate after its chances of approval in the House appeared to dim.

Biden called the provisions of the yet-to-released border package "tough" and "fair" in remarks issued Friday after Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson warned it would be "been dead on arrival" in the chamber should it not go far enough in cracking down on the surge of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Senate negotiators are expected to unveil the measure long sought by conservative GOP lawmakers next week, but the talks have already prompted Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump to urge his congressional allies to scuttle any proposed deal unless it is "perfect."

Some GOP lawmakers said Trump is opposing the measure in order to deny Biden a victory on the volatile topic of immigration ahead of November's presidential election.

Biden on Friday said the deal being hammered out in the Senate would "be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we've ever had in our country," giving him "new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed.

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"And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law," he said.

Biden, in a remark seemingly aimed at Trump and conservative GOP lawmakers, added, "For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it."

Johnson warned in a letter to House colleagues on Friday that "If the rumors about the contents of the draft proposal are true, it would have been dead on arrival in the House anyway."

GOP leaders have insisted that in order to pass the House, any border security bill must be similar to a sweeping measure they approved last year banning asylum access for people who do not cross the border at official ports of entry and restarting the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

According to sources cited by CNN on Friday, the emerging Senate deal would significantly restrict illegal migrant crossings, handing the Department of Homeland Security emergency authority to shut down the border if daily average migrant encounters reach 4,000 over a one-week span or if they exceed 8,500 in a single day.

There were more than 300,000 "encounters" with illegal migrants along the southern border in December alone, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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Senate leaders also are aiming to attach aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to the emerging border deal.

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