President Joe Biden on Tuesday took direct aim at Republicans in Congress and the man they take direction from, former president Donald Trump, slamming both for blocking a carefully-crafted bipartisan compromise bill that would implement sweeping changes in the US immigration system and provision defence assistance funds for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
In remarks from the State Dining Room at the White House, Mr Biden described the legislation crafted by White House negotiators and a group of senators led by Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma, Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema as a “bipartisan agreement that represents the most fair, humane reforms in our immigration system in a long time and the toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever”.
He also acknowledged that at this time, “all indications” show the bill has no chance of advancing in either the House or Senate, and laid out the “simple reason” Republicans are blocking the bill.
“Why? A simple reason, Donald Trump,” he said. Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically, therefore ... even though it helps the country he’s not for it — he’d rather weaponize this issue,” he said.
Mr Biden noted that Mr Trump has done “nothing” in the last day except “reach out to Republicans in the House and Senate, and threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal”.
“Frankly, they owe it to the American people to show some spine and do what they know to be right,” he said, adding that the bill has the support of the US Chamber of Commerce and the union representing rank-and-file border patrol agents.
He explained that the bill is the result of the “extraordinary effort” made by senate negotiators and said it has garnered the support of the business lobby and border union because it would “make the country safer, make the border more secure, treat people more humanely and fairly, and make legal immigration more efficient and consistent with the values of our nation and our international treaty obligations”.
“It would finally provide the funding that I’ve repeatedly repeatedly requested, most recently in October, to actually secure the border — that includes an additional 1500 border agents and officers to secure the border to physically secure it,” he said.
Mr Biden also explained how the bill would streamline the asylum process and give him new authority to close down the US-Mexico border when there are too many illegal crossings between ports of entry.
“The bottom line is this: this bipartisan bill is a win for America because it makes important fixes to our broken immigration system. And it’s the toughest fairest law it’s ever been proposed relative to the border,” he said.
Continuing, the president pointed out that it would also fund defence needs for two US allies, Israel and Ukraine, the latter of which is in dire need of US assistance to continue fending off Russian forces.
“The clock is ticking — every week, every month that passes without new aid for Ukraine means fewer artillery shells, fewer air defence systems, fewer tools for Ukraine to defend ... against this Russian onslaught. It’s just what Putin wants,” he said.
Mr Biden again called out Republicans in the House and Senate for opposing the bill and accused them of following a principle of “Trump first, Putin second, America third”.
He accused Mr Trump of “desperately” acting to stop the bill from passing because “he's not interested in solving the border problem”.
“He wants a political issue to run against me ... the American people want a solution that puts an end to the empty political rhetoric, which has failed to do anything for so long,” he said.
“So Republicans have to decide who do they serve: Donald Trump or the American people? Are they here to solve problems or just weaponise those problems for political purposes?” he said.
“I know my answer — I serve the American people, I’m here to solve problems,” he continued, adding that the American people would know why the bill failed if he does not pass, and vowing to take the issue “to the country” and make sure Americans hear that “Maga Republicans” said “no” to the supplemental bill “because they’re afraid of Donald Trump”.
“Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his Maga Republican friends,” he said.
“It's time for Republicans in the Congress to show courage to show a little spine to make it clear to the American people that you work for them, not for anyone else”.