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Biden tells Republicans to 'show some spine,' buck Trump, and back border bill

President Biden pauses in remarks in the State Dining Room on Feb. 6. Biden urged Congress to pass a Senate compromise bill with funding for the border, Ukraine and other national security priorities.
Mandel Ngan
/
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden pauses in remarks in the State Dining Room on Feb. 6. Biden urged Congress to pass a Senate compromise bill with funding for the border, Ukraine and other national security priorities.

Updated February 6, 2024 at 5:35 PM ET

President Biden on Tuesday urged Republicans in Congress to resurrect what appears to be a failing bipartisan Senate proposal on border funding and other national security priorities, and vowed that he would make failure of the bill an issue in the presidential election.

Biden said the bill would tighten border security and provide crucial funding to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. But he acknowledged that "all indications" were that the bill would die before it even reaches the Senate floor.

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"Why? A simple reason. Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it's bad for him politically," Biden said.

The former president has condemned the bill, telling a recent Nevada rally that he would "fight it all the way" and taking credit for senators changing their mindon the package. "I say, that's okay. Please blame it on me. Please," Trump said.

Biden said Trump wants to "weaponize" the problems at the southern U.S. border for his presidential race and chided congressional Republicans to "show some spine" on the issue.

"Republicans have to decide who do they serve: Donald Trump or the American people?" Biden said.

"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.

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Trump's campaign fired back, saying Biden wasn't taking responsibility for the increase in border crossings happening on his watch and asserting in a statement that Trump would use executive powers to "shut the border down" if he were reelected.

Biden said the bill would give his administration enough funding for personnel and equipment to cut the wait time for evaluating asylum claims to 6 months from the current wait time of five to seven years. It would also expedite work permits, as requested by governors and mayors – and give Biden the authority to shut down the border if there were 5,000 asylum seekers per day at the border.

Biden also said "the clock is ticking" for giving Ukraine aid it needs to fight Russia.

"We can't walk away now – that's what Putin's betting on. Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing this bill is playing into his hands," Biden said.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Asma Khalid
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.