These two House Republicans bucked GOP on flagship border bill

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Two House Republicans bucked their party and voted against the GOP conference’s flagship border bill Thursday.

The legislation — titled the Secure the Border Act — passed in a 219-213 vote. The chamber voted on the bill after months of intra-party negotiations that lasted up until the measure was brought to the floor for a procedural vote Wednesday.

The measure seeks to complete construction of former President Trump’s border wall and increase the number of border agents — while preventing them from “processing” migrants. It would also significantly restrict access to asylum for individuals leaving persecutions in addition to other paths to enter the U.S.

Republican Reps. John Duarte (Calif.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.) were the only two GOP lawmakers to join Democrats opposing the measure.

Duarte in a statement said that he voted against the bill because it “would hurt many families that work in our Valley and create difficulties for our food producers.”

“While I wholeheartedly support enhanced border security, Valley families deserve practical solutions that both Democrats and Republicans can support,” he added.

He noted that the legislation is “dead on arrival in the Senate,” saying “I believe we could do better.”

“With hard work from both Democrats and Republicans, we can deliver real results to fix DACA, ensure a flexible and effective guest worker program, and protect our border,” he continued. “I encourage my colleagues from both parties to work together on a bipartisan bill that benefits our working families and strengthens our nation’s economy.”

The California Republican wrote, “I understand that my vote will not be popular among some fellow Republicans, but I am committed to upholding my promise to put working families ahead of Washington party politics.”

“I will continue to work with my colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, to find commonsense solutions to secure our border and protect our families,” he added.

Massie, who had expressed concerns about the bill in the lead up to the vote, wrote on Twitter Thursday that he would oppose the measure on the floor because of a provision on E-Verify, which is a government system that examines whether or not an individual is authorized to work in the United States.

“FACT: National E-verify assumes every American is an illegal immigrant unless their identity can be matched to a government database. I will vote against it today,” Massie wrote.

The E-Verify provision was a source of contention for other lawmakers during last minute negotiations on the bill. Some agriculture-focused moderate lawmakers, including Reps. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), thought House GOP leaders would offer an amendment to the bill when it was in the House Rules Committee to address their concerns, but the bill was not changed when it was heard before the panel.

That development forced the procedural vote on the bill to be delayed. On Wednesday, however, an amendment was added to the measure that added “sense of Congress” language to the measure stating that, in enacting the E-Verify requirement, the Department of Homeland Security has to make sure “any adverse impact on the nation’s agricultural workforce operations and food security are considered and addressed.”

But the change did not take out the requirement that E-Verify be used to establish whether or not individuals are allowed to work in the U.S.

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