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U.S. Sen. Casey addresses concerns with border, Gaza

  • Scott Blanchard/WITF
FILE - Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., during an event at AFSCME Council 13 offices, March 14, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa.

 Marc Levy / AP Photo

FILE - Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., during an event at AFSCME Council 13 offices, March 14, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa.

With fewer than six months to the general election, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., addressed the ongoing problems with the U.S.-Mexico border and spoke out in favor of a bill addressing those problems.

“Here we are the third time in a decade … where Republicans in Washington have prevented border security deal from going through,” he said Monday. “I hope they will join us this week and vote for this bipartisan border deal, which will, in essence, almost immediately shut down the border.”

Problems at the border have caused national security concerns, particularly among Republicans, partially stemming from unease over the lack of vetting and the influx of fentanyl into the country. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in 2022, 84 percent of fentanyl seizures were made at ports of entry; 16 percent was seized by Border Patrol, which apprehends people trying to enter the U.S. illegally, and much of that was through screening of commercial and passenger vehicles, CBS News reported.

The bill would do multiple things, such as allowing for the hiring of more border agents, and combatting fentanyl smuggling.

Though Republicans initially supported the bill, it was opposed by former President Donald Trump, who said it would shift blame for the issues with the border onto Republicans’ shoulders.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to reintroduce that bill this week.

Casey’s opponent Dave McCormick has spoken against the bill, calling it a “capitulation” shortly after its introduction.

McCormick had also visited the southern border this past weekend.

Casey spoke with reporters about several subjects after an appearance in Harrisburg to talk about flooding mitigation.

That included the United States’ role in the war in Israel and Gaza.

Since October, President Joe Biden and the United States’ response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks has come under criticism.

Casey said the United States and Israel need to do more to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Gaza.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that has to be, if not destroyed, at least badly disabled so they can’t threaten the people of Israel,” he said. “At the same time, Israel, the United States, the Arab states and the Gulf states have to do a lot more to get food aid and, and medical supplies and medicine into Gaza.”

McCormick has been steadfast in his support of Israel. In January, he visited the country and reaffirmed his support.

Casey said he doesn’t expect the issue to fracture the Democratic base this election.

“Every election has a dynamic within a party where there’s debate, and there’s a lot of back and forth, but I feel really confident that Democrats will be united,” he said.

Some Democratic primary voters have cast protest votes against President Joe Biden’s policies toward Israel and Gaza.  

That criticis stems, in part, from the more than 35,000 civilians killed in Gaza.

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