Senate Republican Conference Chair Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday slammed the Biden administration over minors in “captivity” at the border being packed “in like sardines” as Republicans continue to hammer the president over what they say is a border crisis.
Barrasso, R-Wyo., also told “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo that border officials told GOP senators on their recent visit to the border to delete photos they took of the facilities.
“This is both a humanitarian crisis and a national security crisis,” Barrasso said. “You may have seen the numbers today are the highest in history of unaccompanied minors currently in captivity. They are crammed in like sardines. And this is what the Biden administration is trying to hide from the American public.”
He added: “We were told to delete the pictures. No one did. You’ve seen the video coming out of all of these kids crammed together under the foil blankets, huddling together.”
Barrasso also said the fact that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is only testing children when they leave CBP facilities – rather than on arrival – means the testing is not really stopping any spread of the virus.
“They do the instant test. And then those that have been tested positive are just kind of moved to one side of the courtyard, those negative to the other of this courtyard,” Barrasso said. “They’ve all been exposed, and then they’re sent all across the country. You know, that is the real tragedy of this. And we’re not sure what variant of the of the coronavirus they’re carrying. They are carrying it, though, all around America.”
It was first revealed late last month that the Biden administration isn’t testing children upon arrival at CBP facilities, but as they leave to go to other centers run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
“We are not performing testing inside Border Patrol facilities,” an administration official said on a press call.
“Unaccompanied children, those who are being transferred from Border Patrol stations to border intake centers, are tested before they get on a bus and cohorted, and different sites will take positive children and can have the space to make that work,” an administration official also said.
“The irony here is that we’re hearing a lot about Joe Biden wanting vaccine passports to prove that people have vaccines,” Barrasso said. “Meanwhile, the border crossers, they don’t even require I.D. We don’t know who they are, where they’re coming from, what their background is.”
Barrasso also addressed efforts by some Democrats to potentially eliminate the legislative filibuster in the Senate, which have been stymied by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who remain in support of the 60-vote hurdle for bills to get a final vote.
“The Democrats were all for the filibuster before they were against it. But the reason they flip-flopped is exactly what you just said. So they could cram things through along party lines,” Barrasso said. “And those two senators are going to come under immense pressure.”
He added: “We’re supposed to find bipartisan solutions to move the country forward. We have a 50-50 Senate that ought to be a mandate to move to the middle.”
Congress will soon begin considering President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan,” a massive $2 trillion-plus spending plan that the White House is selling as an infrastructure bill.
The president and his officials have said the White House is open to negotiating with Republicans over the proposal, but it remains to be seen how much Democrats are willing to give up or if Republicans are in the mood to negotiate.
A group of 10 moderate Republicans met with the president earlier this year on the coronavirus relief bill only to have their offer rebuffed and never countered. Democrats used a process called budget reconciliation to get around the Senate filibuster and pass the stimulus along party lines. It’s possible they could do the same to advance the American Jobs Plan.