U.S. Sen. Kelly of Arizona urges GOP colleagues to consider bipartisan border agreement

May 16, 2024, 1:00 PM | Updated: 1:11 pm

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona urged Republicans to pass a bipartisan border agreement on the Sena...

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona urged Republicans to pass a bipartisan border agreement on the Senate floor Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona urged Republicans to pass a bipartisan border agreement while he gave a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, officials said.

In his speech, Kelly, a Democrat, argued that border states could have already received additional funding for hiring more agents, advanced technology and an updated asylum system if Republicans had agreed on the bill months ago.

“It’s been nearly 100 days since my Republican colleagues walked away from a bipartisan border security agreement,” Kelly said. “That’s nearly 100 days that my state of Arizona and other border states have had to live with the consequences of that failure.”

He continued to speak about the consequences stemming from the gridlock.

“We had an opportunity to defy the low expectations that the American people have for Congress and actually do something in a bipartisan way to start fixing the border,” Kelly said.

“But that’s not what happened. Senate Republicans walked away. Well, actually, they ran away from this agreement. Because too many politicians would just prefer to keep talking about a problem than actually solve it. This failure isn’t theoretical in my state.”

Here’s what we know about the bipartisan border bill

The bipartisan Senate bill would have added 1,500 new Customs and Border Protection personnel in response to a 250% increase in border encounters over the past four years, during which staffing levels have remained flat, according to The White House.

It would bring in around 4,300 asylum officers. Currently, Arizona has 1,000 asylum officers that work on cases, which can take between 5-7 years to be heard and adjudicated.

Funding would also go toward hiring 100 immigration judges and their associated staff.

Further, the agreement would approve the installation of 100 inspection machines to help detect fentanyl at ports of entry and there would be 10,000 additional detention beds to help with facilities that are at overcapacity.

The bill was drafted by U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona (I-Ariz.), U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

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U.S. Sen. Kelly of Arizona urges GOP colleagues to consider bipartisan border agreement