Senate Nears Vote On Biden’s Ukraine Request

Senate Nears Vote On Biden’s Ukraine Request – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intends to conduct a vote on President Joe Biden’s appeal for significant aid to Ukraine and Israel during the week of December 4, aiming to inject a sense of urgency into ongoing challenging negotiations. Schumer’s Sunday announcement adds pressure on legislators to formulate a border security agreement that can be coupled with essential aid for the two U.S. allies. 

Senate Republicans aim to incorporate border security policy adjustments into any supplemental spending bill, anticipating that such a deal could garner support from a House GOP majority with reservations about aid to Ukraine. Schumer identified the border demand as the primary obstacle, attributing it as the “biggest holdup” to providing additional funds for Ukraine’s defense against Russia and Israel’s conflict with Hamas.

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“This has injected a decades old, hyper-partisan issue into overwhelmingly bipartisan priorities,” Schumer said in a Dear Colleague letter to senators. The Democratic leader said his 51-member caucus was “ready to work on common-sense solutions to address immigration” but warned that if the GOP took too hard a line, it could “jeopardize the entire” supplemental bill.

He also encouraged Democrats to increase collaboration with Republicans in an effort to reach an agreement, a step he had taken just before the Thanksgiving recess. He cautioned about anticipated extended hours and the potential need for weekend work in the days ahead. Several weeks ago, a bipartisan group emerged with the aim of securing an agreement that would combine Biden’s request for over $100 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the border with revisions to U.S. asylum and parole policies.

Before the Thanksgiving recess, asylum emerged as the primary obstacle to progress, as reported by individuals familiar with the negotiations. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are deeply engaged in the discussions. While there are likely 60 votes to allocate tens of billions more to Ukraine, Republicans have cautioned against doing so without a border deal. 

They fear Speaker Mike Johnson won’t consider a bill lacking border security provisions. Schumer’s initiative for a Senate vote in early December imposes a deadline on the Senate talks, a crucial move as Congress has passed two spending bills this fall excluding Ukraine aid. Challenges are expected to intensify in the new year.

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“Nothing would make autocrats like Putin or Xi happier right now than to see the United States waver in our support for the Ukrainian people and its military,” Schumer wrote in his letter, referring to the leaders of Russia and China. “This is not just about Ukrainian or Transatlantic security, it’s about American security as well because an unchecked Putin would be an emboldened Putin.”

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