Senate Border Deal in Peril After McConnell Withdraws Support

The Senate minority leader recommended that Senate Republicans vote ‘no’ to the deal when it comes up for a procedure vote on Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after the unveiling of the Senate border-Ukraine package, the deal appears to be on life support after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reversed his position and withdrew his support amid mounting Republican opposition.

The details of the package, itself the culmination of months of behind-the-scenes wrangling between Republicans and Democrats, were finally made public the evening of Feb. 4.

These revealed that the package had a top-line cost of $118 billion, including roughly $60 billion for Ukraine. Other expenditures in the package would go towards Israel, Taiwan, and U.S. border security.

The package seemed poised to be fast-tracked through the U.S. Senate with the support of both Mr. McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Now, Mr. McConnell has reportedly withdrawn his support from the package.

On Feb. 5, reports surfaced that during a Senate Republican meeting on the evening of Feb. 5, Mr. McConnell had recommended his colleagues vote “no” on the proposal, which he had up to this point backed.

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A Senate aide confirmed the reports in an email to The Epoch Times.

Details on why Mr. McConnell withdrew his support from the package have yet to emerge. But the package’s history has been far from straightforward.

For months, Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) have worked behind closed doors to put the package together.

After months of wrangling, progress seemed to be made on Feb. 4, when details of the package were released.

The details of the proposal left Republicans fuming.

Aside from $60 billion for Ukraine, the package includes $14.1 billion for Israel, $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, $20 billion for border security, and $5 billion for Indo-Pacific partners.

To address the ongoing crisis at the border, the legislation would also institute a series of new border policies.

It would impose a higher legal standard for processing asylum claims, expedite the processing of these claims to six months, impose automatic mandatory shutdowns if a certain threshold of illegal encounters was reached, and limit presidential pardon authority.

Republicans were quick to dismiss the legislation, with House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) calling it “an absolute non-starter” that she said would “further incentivize thousands of illegals to pour in across our borders daily.”

Others in the House, including erstwhile moderate Republicans like Reps. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) also told The Epoch Times that they opposed the package.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has indicated he wouldn’t even bring it to the floor for a vote.

And looming over all the negotiations is the presence of former President Donald Trump, who called the Senate package “a bad deal” and encouraged Republicans to oppose it.

It’s unclear which if any of these factors influenced Mr. McConnell to defect and start opposing the bill.

But his defection effectively kills any remaining prospects the bill had.

Supporters of the bill were hoping for a strong show of Senate Republican support to get the bill over the finish line and place pressure on the House to take it up.

With Mr. McConnell now opposed to the legislation, it’s unclear whether it will even pass the Senate, where until now its odds were considered good.

The bill is still set for a vote in the upper chamber this week, where it will need to win 60 votes to advance.

Due to Mr. Johnson’s opposition, it likely wouldn’t be taken up in the House afterwards.

Mark Tapscott contributed to this report. 

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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