By Alayna Treene, CNN
The House will vote on Republicans’ wide-ranging border security package on Thursday — the same day the Covid-era Title 42 policy that has enabled the US to swiftly expel certain migrants is set to expire, GOP leadership sources told CNN.
The bill, known as HR 2, would codify some of the border programs implemented by former President Donald Trump, including the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which mandated that migrants stay in Mexico while going through the asylum process. It also would pour more resources into security at the southern border, restart bosrder wall construction, add more border personnel and upgrade border technology, among other provisions.
Last month, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said Republicans have the necessary votes to pass the legislation in the chamber, despite internal party divisions over how strict certain policies in the legislation should be.
His comments followed weeks of intraparty negotiations that resulted in the softening of some provisions to get key members, such as Texas Reps. Chip Roy and Tony Gonzalez, and several moderate Republicans on board.
Axios first reported that the vote would be held Thursday. The bill is unlikely to pass in the Democratic-led Senate.
The timing of the vote is designed to directly coincide with the end of Title 42. The policy, first enacted by Trump and continued by President Joe Biden, has allowed border authorities to quickly turn away migrants, citing a public health emergency.
But on Thursday, when the coronavirus public health emergency ends, authorities will have to return to decades-old protocols at a time of unprecedented mass migration in the Western hemisphere, raising concerns within the administration about a surge in the immediate aftermath of Title 42 lifting.
Lawmakers in both parties have been sounding the alarm over the expected influx of migrants and have criticized the Biden administration for not being more prepared for the deadline.
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who caucuses with Democrats, introduced a bill last week that would temporarily extend some provisions covered by Title 42 and give the Biden administration more flexibility in how it handles migrants at the border, such as granting the White House a two-year expulsion authority that would apply to migrants trying to enter the US illegally.
But Tillis acknowledged that the bill can’t become law before Title 42 is lifted on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday defended the Biden administration’s preparedness and outreach for the lifting of Title 42.
“It’s going to take our plan a while to really take hold, for people to understand that they can access lawful, safe, orderly pathways before they reach the border,” he told “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And quite frankly, if they come to the border, they will receive a consequence under our enforcement authorities.”
“We are prepared,” Mayorkas said.
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CNN’s Jasmine Wright, Priscilla Alvarez, Lauren Fox and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.