An election-year dispute over immigration policy emerged on Tuesday as the latest obstacle to quick approval of a $10 billion coronavirus response bill, as Senate Republicans refused to advance the measure without a vote to keep in place pandemic-era border restrictions that President Biden has moved to lift.
While lawmakers in both parties have said they support the money for vaccines, testing and therapeutics, Republicans blocked action on it on Tuesday, insisting that the chamber first vote to maintain the immigration policy, known as Title 42, which has restricted immigration at U.S. land borders since the beginning of the pandemic.
Democratic leaders declined to hold such a vote, which would expose deep divisions in their ranks over the Biden administration’s decision to wind down the order, and jeopardize passage of the broader package. It could also put some of their members at risk of a backlash from voters at a time when Republicans have tried to portray them as lax on immigration.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said the legislation “should not be held hostage to extraneous unrelated issues,” and instead tried to push ahead with the funding package. The move failed on a vote of 52 to 47, with one Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, joining all Republicans in opposition.