Senate Struggles for Bipartisan Support on Foreign Aid as Border Security Debate Looms

Senate on cusp of passing Ukraine, Israel aid but still lacks GOP support

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The Senate concluded its session on Wednesday evening without securing sufficient Republican support for U.S. aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

Tomorrow, the chamber will conduct a procedural vote on a $95 billion national security package earmarked for these three countries.

Republicans blocked a separate bill yesterday, criticizing the immigration provisions for not adequately addressing illegal border crossings.

Senate Struggles for Bipartisan Support on Foreign Aid as Border Security Debate Looms
Senate Struggles for Bipartisan Support on Foreign Aid as Border Security Debate Looms (Credits: CNN)

However, the Senate is still short of the 60 votes required to advance the standalone aid package as Republicans continue their search for additional backers.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, announced, “We will adjourn until tomorrow, allowing our Republican colleagues time to make their decisions.”

Surprisingly, at least eight Senate Republicans have expressed readiness to support the foreign aid without the inclusion of the border security agreement, marking a notable shift from previous GOP stances.

Senator Bernard Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, has stated that he will not endorse the aid package unless it includes restrictions on military assistance to Israel due to the significant civilian casualties in its conflict with Hamas.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, is among those supporting the aid package. He emphasized the importance of standing by allies in Europe and the Middle East to maintain credibility.

McConnell remarked, “If America fails to stand with our partners on the front lines in Europe and the Middle East, we will shred our credibility with friends in the Indo-Pacific.”

The Senate finds itself in a situation reminiscent of the fall, prior to extensive border negotiations, albeit with Republican backing to proceed without addressing the U.S.-Mexico border crisis.

Further Republican support for the standalone aid package may emerge if Democrats and Republicans can agree on amendment votes.

Despite previously voting against the border deal, some Republicans are pushing for amendment votes related to illegal immigration.

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, the chief negotiator for the border provisions, accused his GOP colleagues of playing politics with a contentious issue.

Lankford revealed that he had been threatened by an unnamed “popular commentator” weeks ago, who vowed to sabotage any attempts to resolve the border crisis during a presidential election year.

He lamented, “They have been faithful to their promise and have done everything they can to destroy me in the past several weeks.”

If the aid package advances on Thursday, it will still require final approval, which could happen later this week before the Senate goes on a two-week recess.

However, its prospects in the Republican-controlled House remain uncertain, as House Republicans have previously rejected increased aid to Ukraine without stringent border security measures attached.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.