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FIRST ON FOX: Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona is one of the most high profile of the growing number of congressional Democrats to break with President Biden this month over the administration’s move to rescind a Trump-era pandemic restriction known as Title 42, which allowed officials to rapidly expel asylum seekers that crossed U.S.-Mexico border.
But that’s not stopping the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) from targeting Kelly over his past votes on border security in a new ad blitz that will start running statewide in Arizona on Monday.
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“What do you call a politician who votes the party line in Washington but says the opposite when he’s home in Arizona?” asks the narrator in a new commercial by the Senate GOP’s campaign arm that was shared first with Fox News on Thursday. “You call him Senator Mark Kelly.”
The narrator then emphasizes that Kelly — a first term senator in a crucial battleground and border state who faces a likely challenging re-election in November’s midterms — has voted “97% with Biden.”
Pointing to Kelly’s votes last year on Republican-sponsored amendments regarding border security, the narrator argues that the senator “voted for sanctuary cities, for benefits to illegals, and against a border wall. Kelly voted to allow restrictions to be lifted, which will cause a massive new border surge.”
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“Tell Senator Kelly: Stop voting with Biden and against Arizona,” the narrator urges at the end of the ad.
The NRSC tells Fox News their new spot will start running statewide on Monday and is part of a seven-figure ad buy.
Kelly has been a reliable Biden ally since both entered office in January of last year, except when it comes to the border.
As the current crisis at the nation’s southern border starting building during the first couple of months of the Biden presidency, Kelly was vocal in asking the president for more federal resources and early on calling the situation a “crisis,” a word the administration resisted using at the time. And he vowed to hold the White House “accountable.”
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Fast-forward to last week and Kelly, after meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the Douglas Port of Entry in Arizona along the U.S.-Mexico border, reiterated that “right now we have a crisis on our southern border.”
“Title 42 was put in place because of a public health emergency. It shouldn’t be around forever, but right now this administration does not have a plan. I warned them about this months ago,” Kelly told reporters.
Title 42 was a public health order issued by former President Donald Trump’s administration amid the coronavirus outbreak. It was used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to expel a majority of migrants crossing the border.
While it is a public health order, not an immigration policy, it became one of the central border policies in place as the U.S. faces a continuing crisis of numbers at the border. And the Biden administration’s move came after more than a year of pressure from fellow Democrats amid frustration with the inability to end a policy they view as illegal and cruel to those fleeing persecution.
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U.S. immigration authorities carried out 109,549 expulsions under Title 42 in March, which represented nearly half of all migrant apprehensions last month. Last September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cited Title 42 as it deported roughly 7,000 asylum-seekers from Haiti who had huddled at the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
The order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lift the restrictions on May 23 could become another political liability for the president and his party, which already faces major headwinds and an unfavorable political climate partially fueled by soaring inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, and Biden’s underwater approval ratings.
The Democrats are trying to hold onto their razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate in November’s midterm elections, and the race in Arizona is one of a handful of Senate contests that will likely decide whether the GOP can win back the chamber’s majority.
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The new ad by the NRSC is the latest spot by Republican committees, outside groups, and some GOP Senate candidates hoping to face off against Kelly in November, to target the senator over the border crisis. Kelly’s re-election campaign has released its own commercials that emphasize that the senator has led efforts to “improve border security.”