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Senators Bob Menendez (left) and Alex Padilla (right)
Senators Bob Menendez (left) and Alex Padilla (right) were crucial fighters against the expansion of Title 42 in the negotiations around the Inflation Reduction Act. Photos: Getty Images.

Latino lawmakers lead Democratic charge to reject Title 42 amendments

The proposed provisions threatened the viability of the Inflation Reduction Act, given an already airtight margin.

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Amid a high-stakes legislative session on the landmark climate and tax bill (known as the Inflation Reduction Act) on Friday, Aug. 5, Democratic Sens. Bob Menéndez and Alex Padilla warned their caucuses of proposed amendments to Title 42 that could’ve derailed the entire bill.

Republicans introduced new amendments during a budget reconciliation process, allowing for a vote-a-rama, an avenue lawmakers use to introduce an unlimited number of amendments to the budget.

Any modifications to an already fragile bill threatened to kill it entirely if it caused divisions among Democratic lawmakers. During this session, Republicans only needed a 50-50 split vote to incorporate said amendments. 

“The way to slay that Inflation Reduction Act is to have extraneous provisions adopted, including immigration provisions,” Menéndez told MSNBC.

“I certainly cannot support it if extraneous provisions get adopted, particularly pejorative provisions that have nothing to do with the health, welfare, and security of the American people,” he added. 

Sen. Bill Haggerty, R-Tennessee, introduced an amendment to supply border security with sufficient resources to deport a higher number of people. Three Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Mark Kelly of Arizona — all who face difficult, upcoming races, voted in favor of the provision.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who at the time did not say how she’d vote on Title 42 provisions, was also rumored to back the amendments. In the past, Sinema has advocated for increased funding at the border. 

“Arizona communities bear the brunt of the federal government’s failure at our border, so we’re stepping in and protecting border communities by ensuring the Administration works hand-in-hand with local leaders, law enforcement, and nonprofits to put a comprehensive, workable plan in place before lifting Title 42. I’ll continue pushing for transparency and accountability from the Administration to help secure the border, keep Arizona communities safe, and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” Sinema said in a written statement.

Sinema ultimately voted in favor of the failed Title 42 modifications.  

While none of the amendments prevailed during the vote, a total of six Democratic senators opted in favor of Title 42 expansions:

  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada)
  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona)
  • Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana)
  • Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia)
  • Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire)
  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona)

Senators Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer hashed out their disagreements behind closed doors, without the Republican’s knowledge. An agreement was later reached as a surprise to many, including Sinema, who was left in the dark during these negotiations.

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