Senate votes down border bill, pursues possible plan to aid Israel, Ukraine

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., discusses the next steps for the foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel after a bipartisan Senate border security bill collapsed Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., discusses the next steps for the foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel after a bipartisan Senate border security bill collapsed Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Republicans plus a handful of Democrats voted against moving forward on legislation to provide emergency funding to Israel and Ukraine while also overhauling border policies in hopes of stemming the influx of migrants at the southern border.

A second vote that was essentially a trial run for Plan B — funding for Ukraine and Israel with most of the border security language removed — was still pending as of press time as Republicans and Democrats attempted to negotiate a path forward.

President Joe Biden has backed legislation providing wartime aid to Ukraine and Israel, but for months Republicans in Congress said problems at the border needed to be addressed before any foreign aid is approved.

But once a bipartisan group of senators announced it had reached an agreement that combined these issues into a single package, former President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to reject it and resist giving Biden an important legislative win during an election year. Republican leaders in the U.S. House said the Senate border security legislation would be “dead on arrival.”

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer still put the bill on the floor Wednesday, saying it represented months of negotiations and was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address a complex political issue. The measure needed 60 votes to move forward but fell far short with only 49 senators voting to proceed.

Four Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of the legislation; four Democrats and one independent were among the liberal bloc who voted with Republicans against it. These liberals felt the new border security language was too restrictive. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, also changed his vote to a “no” to allow him the ability to bring the measure up for reconsideration in the future.

Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both of Atlanta, were among the Democrats who supported the bill. Ossoff said after the vote that the GOP opposition was “one of the most astonishing displays of political cowardice in modern American history.”

“It has nothing to do with the merits of the policy,” he said. “It has everything to do with their fear of Donald Trump, who would rather wield the border as an election issue than see this good-faith, bipartisan effort in the Senate to address the issue succeed.”

After Schumer failed to get the support needed to proceed on the bill, he called for a vote on a separate measure that would provide funding to Israel and Ukraine and add in new policies and funding intended to reduce the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. That measure however, was also struggling to reach the 60 votes needed to ensure it could stay alive.

Between votes, Warnock said that he had hoped GOP lawmakers would have allowed for debate on the bipartisan package because it attempted to tackle all these issues and more.

“Our friends insisted that we needed to address that in tandem with the border — an important issue to be sure, but one of the most fraught issues in American politics,” he said. “And now the folks who were saying it’s a crisis have decided, apparently, that it is not a crisis. I think it’s irresponsible, and yet we have to find a way forward on all of these national security issues.”

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