Senate Advances Aid Package to Ukraine, Israel That Excludes Border Measures

This comes one day after the Senate failed to advance a similar bill that included border and immigration provisions.

The Senate advanced on Feb. 8 a supplemental bill that would give assistance to Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific and deal with the fentanyl crisis in the United States—one day after failing to advance a similar bill that included border and immigration provisions.

The vote to move on to debate the $95.3 billion supplemental was 67–32, meeting the required 60-vote threshold for a successful vote. However, final passage is far from guaranteed as there will be an amendment process; therefore, the process to a final vote will likely be weeks away.

It includes $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine amid its war with Russia, and $14.1 billion for Israel amid its latest conflict with the terrorist group Hamas.

The second supplemental comes as the initial $118 billion supplemental was blocked by all but four Republicans and four Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with the Democrats.

The initial bill included $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine and $14.1 billion for Israel in addition to border security and immigration measures.

The bill’s defeat was expected after mounting opposition from Senate Republicans who took issue with the border policies, forcing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to acknowledge that the bill had no chance of becoming law.

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Later in the day, in a 58–41 vote, the Senate cleared an initial procedural step in advancing the chamber’s plan B: a national security package containing funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan without any border provisions.

Senate Republicans explained to reporters why they voted against starting debate on the border-Ukraine package. Many took issue with a specific provision that mandated a border shutdown after daily illegal crossings hit 5,000 over a given week.

Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said President Joe Biden already has the authority to shut down the border.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said that this benefits businesses, citing the Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of the measure, and that it makes the situation at the border “worse.”

The saga surrounding the border deal’s unraveling also stirred up discontent among Republican senators with Mr. McConnell’s leadership.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said it was time for the minority leader to step down.

However, not all Republicans are ready to throw Mr. McConnell under the bus.

“I think we make too much out of all these things,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told reporters. “So it’s all remarkable.

“I really do believe that this place is like a ‘Star Trek’ episode,” he continued, referring to the Senate. “Fifty-five minutes of drama. Somebody inconsequential died. Problem solved. Sail off to the next galaxy. I think people can make a lot over some inflection point the change in leadership … I just reject all that stuff.”

Mr. Tillis defended Mr. McConnell, saying he “is doing a fine job.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sidestepped the question about Mr. McConnell’s leadership.

“I’m interested in securing our border,” he told The Epoch Times.

The now-blocked border deal was negotiated among Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the GOP presidential primary, came out against the initial supplemental.

The border provisions in the initial supplemental provided an emergency authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to shut down the border if an average of 4,000 daily encounters is reached over one week.

However, if average encounters reach 5,000 a day over the same period, then the DHS secretary is required to shut down the border.

The deal also limited President Biden’s parole authority, a power that gives him the ability to allow more illegal immigrants into the country and raised the legal bar for the initial screening of asylum claims.

It would also have expedited the asylum processing time from many years to six months.

The package didn’t include a restoration of President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, which many Republicans have told The Epoch Times is a must-have.

Joseph Lord contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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