Things are about to change…
The Senate Judiciary Committee entered a heated conflict over a controversial asylum bill in one of the last days leading up to the August recess. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, declined to postpone the proposal any longer after accusing Democrats of withholding a 7-week vote.
The proposal, known as the Secure and Protect Act, requires Central American asylum seekers to register outside the U.S. before applying for asylum. Graham’s bill also expanded the period to keep migrant couples from 20 days to 100 days in detention centers to assist in preventing immigration fraud.
The bill will ensure that unaccompanied children migrating from Central America are returned after screening to their home country following the procedure for children entering Canada and Mexico.
The Judiciary Committee eventually narrowly approved the bill by a 12-10 margin. The panel was short two Democrats in a vote on the bill last week leading Democrats to accused Graham of breaking the rules. “Why even have rules?” Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein asked rhetorically. Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy reinforced this sentiment saying “if the majority is willing to break any rule in order to report this bill today, there are no rules.”
Graham defended the bill’s passing, claiming he did not violate Senate rules. Graham accused Democrats of deliberately failing to appear last week at a meeting on the proposal and delaying it for seven weeks.
“Here’s the way I take what you did last week, your saying I really can’t be chairman. After seven weeks of holding my own bill, under this scenario I can’t even pass a bill that I introduced as chairman because two of you won’t show up,” Graham said. “I will work with you as long as I can in good faith, but you are not going to take my job away from me! I take this very personally. I tried my best.”
.@SenatorLeahy: “I wasn’t here last week because a member of my family was being buried that day.”@LindseyGrahamSC: “Duly noted. I apologize…I don’t mean to make it personal, but I was told nobody’s going to come for the expressed purpose, so I could not mark this bill up.” pic.twitter.com/an6ZaR68hX
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 1, 2019
Graham even called out Leahy directly, who was sitting to his left, saying, “Senator Leahy, you’ve been here a long time. I would never have done this to you.” Leahy responded by saying he was absent, “because a member of my family was being buried.”
Graham provided his condolences instantly, but rendered it apparent that he was notified that the Democrats would not appear on political grounds.
“I will no longer allow our asylum laws to be exploited by human traffickers, smugglers and cartels,” said Graham in an official statement. “Cartels, smugglers and human traffickers are profiting off immigrants and helping them take advantage of our broken asylum laws. I will no longer allow the loopholes in our laws to be exploited. I will not aid and abet these horrific practices. My bill fixes these problems.”