Senate Blocks Border-Ukraine Deal, Moves to Consider Plan B

The second bill includes $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine and $14.1 billion for Israel.

A controversial foreign assistance package that includes border security measures failed to pass a procedural vote in the Senate on Feb. 7.

The bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to begin debate, with 50 senators voting against its advancement, and 49 voting in the affirmative.

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

The Senate will now proceed to consider advancing a national security package that contains Ukraine and Israel funding, without any border provisions.

“Republicans said they would only do Ukraine and Israel, humanitarian aid with border. Then they said they would not do it with [the] border,” Mr. Schumer told reporters ahead of the vote.

“Well, we’re going to give them both options. We‘ll take either one. We just hope they can come to ’Yes’ on something.”

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The second bill 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.

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 that President Joe Biden already has the authority to shut down the border.

Sen Josh Hawley (R-Okla.) 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.”

Congressional Republicans have said they would not support assistance to Ukraine without tough border security measures. However, the second supplemental stripped the border and immigration provisions from the initial one.

The second supplemental is identical to the one that Senate Republicans blocked last month.

The initial supplemental bill was negotiated between Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

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

The border provisions in the initial supplemental provide 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 limits President Joe Biden’s parole authority, a power that gives him the ability to allow more illegal immigrants into the country and raises the legal bar for the initial screening of asylum claims.

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

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

Following the release of the initial supplemental, congressional Republicans expressed outrage.

“I can’t support a bill that doesn’t secure the border, provides taxpayer-funded lawyers to illegal immigrants, and gives billions to radical open borders groups. I’m a ‘no’,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) wrote on social media platform X.

Mr. Daines called on President Biden, who supports the agreement, to use his existing executive authority to secure the border.

“Throughout this process, I said I was listening and hoping for a solution, but to my disappointment, this bill misses the mark,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) wrote.

“The terrible $118 billion supplemental worsens the border invasion, incentivizes illegal entry, sends more taxpayer dollars to Ukraine, and exacerbates our fiscal crisis,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the chairman of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, wrote on X.

“Americans will see which Republicans are on their side based on who supports or opposes this disaster.”

The House GOP leadership—Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)—released a joint statement on Feb. 5 denouncing the bill.

“House Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill because it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration,” they stated.

“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is dead on arrival in the House,” they added. “We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it.”

The second supplemental is also likely dead on arrival in the House.

Joseph Lord contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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