Senate Republicans Block Bipartisan Border Security Bill

February 7, 2024 by Dan McCue
Senate Republicans Block Bipartisan Border Security Bill
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., discusses next steps for the foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel on the day after the bipartisan Senate border security bill collapsed, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans voted against a procedural measure on Wednesday that would have advanced a bipartisan border security bill that was part of a larger package that would have sent military aid to Ukraine, Israel and U.S. allies serving as a bulwark against Chinese encroachment in the Indo-Pacific.

The foreign aid portion of the package also includes funding for the FEND Off Fentanyl Act.

As reported earlier on Wednesday by The Well News, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had expected the Republicans to block the broader vote, and was expected to quickly bring a revised package to the floor that contains only aid for Ukraine, Israel and other foreign policy priorities — leaving a border deal for another day.

He voted “no” on the procedural measure on technical grounds that it will allow him to offer the motion to reconsider at any time. 

As it was, the motion to proceed on the broader package this afternoon failed by a vote of 49-50.

On the Republican side of the aisle, only Sens. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, Susan Collins, of Maine, James Lankford, of Oklahoma, and Mitt Romney, of Utah, voted to advance the measure.

Democratic Sens. Alex Padilla, of California, Bob Menendez, of New Jersey, and Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, both of Massachusetts, voted against the package.

Also voting no was Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who said he opposed the $10 billion in military aid it provided Israel in the wake of more than 27,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza following the attack on Israel by Hamas in October.

The vote itself appeared to indicate that the Senate, like the House, found resistance to the harangues of former President Donald Trump over the border deal too much to bear.

“Only a fool, or a Radical Left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous legislation,” Trump said on his Truth Social social media website on Monday.

He went on to call the bill “a great gift to the Democrats and a Death Wish for the Republican Party.”

Prior to rapidly growing pressure from the ex-president, most Senate Republicans appeared to support linking funding for Ukraine to stepped up efforts to secure the border, and many seemed to insist on it.

The Republican opposition also flew in the face of support from the National Border Patrol Council, which endorsed the bipartisan bill earlier this week.

“This is absolutely better than what we currently have,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told reporters earlier this week.

Judd, whose group has endorsed Trump for president, said the new authorities the bill would have given agents to turn migrants away at the border would have been a key step toward solving the current crisis there.

During the vote, Schumer expressed anger at his Republican colleagues, saying they “cannot claim to be serious about fixing the border while voting against the kind of border package we have before us today.”

“Why have Republicans backed off on [the] border when they know it’s the right thing to do?” he added later. “Two words — Donald Trump. Donald Trump doesn’t like that the Senate finally reached a real bipartisan border deal.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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