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Senators Hurry to Unveil their Package of Border Policies and Assistance for Ukraine and Israel

Senators Hurry to Unveil Their Package of Border Policies and Assistance for Ukraine and Israel
Credits: WSJ

Senators engaged in a swift effort on Sunday to unveil a much-anticipated bill that combines border enforcement policy with wartime aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other U.S. allies.

This legislative effort faces considerable skepticism, particularly from Republicans like House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The proposed legislation represents a critical opportunity for President Joe Biden to replenish Ukraine’s wartime aid, a shared foreign policy objective with Senate leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Senators Hurry to Unveil Their Package of Border Policies and Assistance for Ukraine and Israel

Senators Hurry to Unveil Their Package (Credits:

A key test vote on the bill was expected in the Senate this week but has already encountered significant resistance from conservatives.

The delay in approving tens of billions of dollars in Ukraine aid has led to the suspension of ammunition and missile shipments to Kyiv, leaving Ukrainian soldiers at a disadvantage against Russia’s invasion.

Last year, McConnell insisted that border policy changes be included in the national security funding package to overcome opposition from House Republicans.

The bill proposes overhauling the asylum system at the border, ensuring faster and more robust enforcement, and granting presidents new powers to expel migrants immediately when the asylum application process becomes overwhelming.

In a shift on immigration during an election year, Biden and many Democrats have embraced the idea of strict border enforcement, while former President Donald Trump and his allies criticize the proposed measures as insufficient.

Johnson, in an interview, expressed his focus on stemming the flow at the border and indicated that he, not Trump, would decide whether to bring the bill to the floor if it passes the Senate.

Johnson’s resistance to the Senate package was evident when he suggested that the House would vote on a separate $17.6 billion military aid package for Israel, allowing House Republicans to show support independently of the Senate deal.

However, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who negotiated the border proposal, emphasized the legislation’s realism, pragmatism, and strength in addressing the border crisis, expressing confidence that it would pass the Senate.

The border proposal, developed over months of negotiations, aims to gain control of an overwhelmed asylum system facing historic numbers of migrants. It suggests an overhaul with tougher and quicker enforcement measures.

If daily illegal border crossings exceed 5,000 for a five-day average, an expulsion authority would automatically activate, sending migrants back to Mexico without an opportunity for asylum claims. If the number reaches 4,000, presidential administrations would have the option to use the expulsion authority.

The bill allocates $18.5 billion to immigration enforcement, hiring thousands of new officers for asylum claim evaluations and hundreds of Border Patrol agents.

Additionally, $1.4 billion would go to shelters and services in cities struggling with the influx of migrants. Asylum seekers would undergo a faster and more stringent process, with raised standards for initial interviews and quicker final decisions on asylum claims.

While the tougher asylum standards have raised concerns among some Democrats, especially progressives and Hispanic lawmakers, the full text of the bill has been kept under wraps, prompting reserved judgment from many.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries expressed openness to the proposal, emphasizing the need for bipartisan common ground in a period of divided government.

The bill, including aid for U.S. allies, investments in defense manufacturing, and humanitarian assistance for conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, is still undergoing negotiations. Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested a push by GOP senators to slow down the bill’s advancement in the Senate, deeming it too important to rush.

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