Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) is one of a few Republicans voicing hesitation or opposition to the GOP’s sweeping border package, which the House plans to vote on this week.
Crenshaw argues the bill, called the Secure the Border Act of 2023, is weak on the issue of drug cartels.
The Texas Republican cited a provision, found in section 123, that would require Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to submit a report to Congress on whether to designate cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
The Republican border bill will help rein in illegal immigration—that’s good.
But it doesn’t do a thing to target the drug cartels.
These cartels have operational control over the border and kill tens of thousands of Americans a year with fentanyl.
You’d think we might…
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) May 8, 2023
The brief section on the cartels, criminal organizations that profit to the tune of billions off illicit activities including smuggling migrants and trafficking drugs, is the sole mention of the issue in the 213-page bill.
“There’s no increased prison time for cartel members. No targeting cartel finances. No going after the people who aid and abet them,” Crenshaw wrote on social media.
He said, “This is an easy fix – I’ve introduced amendments to do that – but so far our leadership has refused to correct this glaring omission and refused to allow an open amendment process. Nor is there a plan to consider exclusive cartel legislation on our calendar.”
A spokeswoman for Crenshaw told Breitbart News that Crenshaw has not committed to voting for or against the legislation, and that he is in talks with GOP leadership on the matter. One way the congressman would consider voting for the bill, she said, is if leadership were to guarantee him a floor vote on future anti-cartel legislation.
In addition to Crenshaw, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) appears undecided on the bill, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) opposes it because of his concerns that the federal government would abuse the bill’s E-Verify mandate, which is designed to prevent illegal migrants from working in the U.S. Massie worries the government would use the E-Verify system to push mandatory vaccinations.
Spartz said Tuesday both Crenshaw and Massie “raise very important points.”
Depending on absences on the day of the vote, which is expected to be Thursday, Republicans can only afford a few defections within their conference before the bill would fail, as most or all Democrats are likely to oppose it.
At least three other Republicans had been on the fence about the bill, Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA), whose family operates an 850-acre farm, and Reps. David Valadao (CA) and Mike Simpson (ID), because of the E-Verify mandate’s impact on the agriculture industry, per Politico.
Leadership however agreed to modify the bill to require DHS “to consider E-Verify’s impact on the agricultural workforce,” the outlet reported, though specific impacts of the change remain unclear.
Republicans unveiled the legislation last month, where House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) touted it as “the strongest border security package that Congress has ever taken up” and vowed that the House would pass it.
The bill vote, if it does occur as planned on Thursday, would take place the same day the Biden administration lifts the Title 42 border barrier, a policy change expected to massively exacerbate the already-existing migration crisis.
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.