Senate Whiffs on Immigration Reform

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday that the Israeli Defense Forces would push their campaign against Hamas into Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city that borders Egypt. “We are continuing this operation, and we will also reach the places where we have not yet fought in the central and southern strip, and especially the last center of gravity left in Hamas hands—Rafah,” Gallant said. An estimated one million people, displaced from the fighting, are in Rafah, with many living in makeshift shelters. “Most of the remaining battalions are in the southern Strip and in Rafah, and we will deal with them,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Hamas responded yesterday to a potential ceasefire and hostage deal brokered by Qatar, maintaining their demand that Israel end the war to secure any hostage release. (As many as 50 of the remaining 132 hostages could be dead, according to reported Israeli estimates.)
  • A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously rejected former President Donald Trump’s claim of presidential immunity in special counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election interference case. “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant,” the panel wrote in their 57-page decision. “But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.” Trump’s legal team is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and has until Monday to do so.
  • The bipartisan border and foreign aid bill negotiated in the Senate over the last four months appeared doomed for failure on Tuesday night, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters yesterday that there was “no real chance here to make a law.” Republican support for the deal fell apart in the wake of Trump’s public opposition. President Joe Biden criticized Republicans in a speech yesterday, arguing they caved to Trump by not moving the legislation forward. “All indications are this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason. Donald Trump,” Biden claimed. “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.”
  • House Republicans failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last night, with the chamber voting 214-216 on the resolution, which alleges Mayorkas has “willfully and systematically refused to comply with the law” and “breached public trust.” Three GOP lawmakers defected from their party and voted against the impeachment: Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Tom McClintock of California. A fourth, Rep. Blake Moore of Utah, changed his vote to no after it became clear the resolution would fail—a procedural maneuver that will enable House leadership to revisit the impeachment votes in the future. The House also failed to pass a standalone $17.6 billion Israel aid package on Tuesday, with 14 Republicans and 166 Democrats voting against the measure that was supported by Republican leadership and required two-third majority support.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report yesterday on the Alaska Airlines flight that experienced a door plug panel blowout last month. The report found that the bolts holding the panel in place appeared to have not been reinstalled after the panel was opened for repairs to rivets at a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington. FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker told lawmakers yesterday he intended to increase oversight of Boeing. Twenty inspectors have since been added to the Renton facility.

Immigration Deal Breaks Down in the Senate

GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma talks to reporters as he makes his way to a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 2024. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Consider sparing a thought today for Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma. 

After being tasked by his colleagues with one of the hardest jobs in American politics—fixing the country’s broken immigration system—Lankford spent months negotiating with Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to find a bipartisan compromise. The former president and de facto leader of Lankford’s party came out against the effort before the draft was even finished, leading prominent right-wing commentators to call for his resignation. When the work was finally complete and the negotiators released a 370-page bill, the backlash from his fellow Republicans was so fierce and so quick that Lankford himself is not even sure he’ll vote to advance his own bill today. 

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