By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the bipartisan immigration bill was collapsing under political pressure from his Republican rival. Donald Trump and urged lawmakers to have a “backbone” and pass the much-needed measure.
“All indications are that this bill won’t even make it to the Senate floor. Why? The simple reason: Donald Trump,” Biden said. “Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically.”
Concerns about immigration have become a major issue in this year’s election campaign, as Trump prepares for a likely November rematch with Biden. Trump pushed congressional Republicans to reject the bipartisan border security deal unveiled Sunday.
The $118 billion bill, which also includes aid to Israel and Ukraine as they fight a Russian invasion, is quickly losing support on Capitol Hill. House Republicans declared it dead on arrival, and more than 20 Republican senators said the measure was not strict enough.
Several Democrats also opposed the bill because they said some of its measures treat migrants too harshly.
Biden did not mention Democratic opposition, but blamed Republicans for caving to pressure from Trump, who he said contacted Republican lawmakers to “intimidate them into voting against this proposal.”
“Frankly, they owe it to the American people to be courageous and do what they know is right,” Biden said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also took aim at Trump on Tuesday over growing opposition to the border security deal.
“Donald Trump would rather keep the chaos at the border so he can exploit it on the campaign trail instead of letting the Senate do the right thing and fix it,” Schumer said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw; editing by Leslie Adler)