ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema blasts ‘bickering’ Senate before border bill test vote fails

May 23, 2024, 1:39 PM

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the failed bor...

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the failed border bill on May 23, 2024. (Screenshot courtesy of Sinema)

(Screenshot courtesy of Sinema)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema expressed her frustration Thursday with the U.S. Senate’s unwillingness to pass meaningful border legislation ahead of its failed test vote of a bill she helped negotiate.

Sinema spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. Senate Republicans again blocked the bill meant to clamp down on the number of migrants allowed to claim asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Today’s vote is not an attempt to solve the problem or provide relief to Arizona border communities,” Sinema said during her speech. “Today’s vote is to send a message. Arizona doesn’t need your message. Arizona needs your help. Arizona needs action.

“These games of tit for tat, caving to the political messaging game, force both parties further to the fringes — and further away from real solutions.”

Why hasn’t border legislation passed in the U.S. Senate?

The legislation, negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators including Sinema, was already rejected by most Republicans in February when it was linked to a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies.

With immigration and border security becoming one of the top issues of this year’s election, Democrats are looking for an answer to the barrage of GOP attacks, led by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Sinema, who isn’t seeking reelection, said she was “deeply disappointed” with political games stalling legislation.

“These games demonstrate exactly why Americans have lost faith in their elected leaders — a Congress, bickering and fighting for power instead of solving problems and making progress, any kind of progress, for regular people,” Sinema said.

Since the collapse of the Senate’s legislation in February, the Biden administration has been considering executive orders on border policy and immigration. It has already made some changes to the asylum system meant to speed up processing and potential removal of migrants. Yet the Senate’s test vote this week was widely seen as part of a lead-up to Biden issuing more sweeping border measures, potentially as early as June.

The Democratic president has considered using a provision in federal immigration law that gives leeway to block entry of certain immigrants into the U.S. if it would be “detrimental” to the national interest of the United States.

The authority was repeatedly tapped by Trump when he was in the White House, but some of those actions faced legal challenges.

“I’ve often asked my colleagues, in the interest of our nation, to step out of partisan boxes and work with me to find real solutions to real problems,” Sinema said. “We’ve done it time and time again. This time it didn’t work.

“Nearly four months later, I’m still deeply disappointed that we didn’t solve the border crisis for my state and for our country.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema blasts ‘bickering’ Senate before border bill test vote fails