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    Senate Republicans on track to block bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package in key vote

    Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

    Sen. James Lankford talks to reporters as he makes his way to a meeting at the US Capitol on February 5, in Washington, DC.

    Senate Republicans are expected to tank a major bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package with assistance for Ukraine and Israel in a vote on Wednesday amid a torrent of attacks on the bill by former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans.

    A failed vote will amount to a stunning rebuke by Senate Republicans of a deal that would have enacted restrictive border measures and was crafted in part by one of their own members – James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of the chamber’s most conservative senators. Republicans had demanded that border security be part of the bill, but are now rejecting the deal after pressure from Trump, who is making the border a central campaign issue in his race for the White House.

    The expected outcome is poised to leave aid for Ukraine and Israel, two key US allies, in jeopardy at a critical time. In the aftermath of the vote, lawmakers will face increasing pressure to pass foreign aid on its own without any border provisions – an uncertain prospect as some Republicans are opposed to further aid to Ukraine.

    The Senate is set to hold an initial procedural vote on Wednesday that would require 60 votes for the bill to advance. There are expected to be defections on both sides of the aisle, but there has been a flood of GOP opposition to the deal in the wake of its release on Sunday evening.

    High-ranking members of Senate Republican leadership have come out against it and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the bill “will not become law,” amid Speaker Mike Johnson’s opposition and concerns within the Senate GOP conference. Johnson has repeatedly said that the bill would be “dead on arrival” in his chamber.

    Democrats have expressed outrage at Republicans for lining up in opposition to the deal, arguing that they cannot be trusted as negotiating partners and saying that they are bowing to pressure from Trump to keep the border in the political spotlight.

    While Trump and other Republicans have attacked the bill as too weak, it would mark a tough change to immigration law and would give the president far-reaching powers to restrict illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. The Wall Street Journal editorial board has called the deal “the most restrictive migrant legislation in decades.”

    The border deal is the product of months of negotiations with a trio of senators – Lankford, independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

    The sweeping $118 billion legislative package would provide aid to key US allies abroad, including billions of dollars to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia and security assistance for Israel, as well as humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.

    There has also been criticism of the bill from some Democrats. Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Alex Padilla of California have both forcefully attacked the border deal.

    Menendez called the deal “unacceptable” in a statement Sunday evening and said, “If these changes were being considered under Trump, Democrats would be in outrage, but because we want to win an election Latinos and immigrants now find themselves on the altar of sacrifice.”

    Padilla said in a statement that the bill “misses the mark,” adding it will “cause more chaos at the border, not less,” and it “fails to provide relief for Dreamers, farm workers, and the other undocumented long-term residents of our country who contribute billions to our economy, work in essential jobs, and make America stronger.”

    Many Republicans have attacked the border policy directly, and some have argued there should be more time to consider, debate and amend the bill after it was released on Sunday evening.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has harshly criticized Senate Republicans for opposing the package, accusing them of following Trump’s marching orders.

    “We all know what’s going on here. Donald Trump would rather keep the chaos at the border so he can exploit it on the campaign trail, instead of letting the Senate do the right thing and fix it,” Schumer said on Tuesday. “And instead of standing up to Donald Trump, Senate Republicans are ready to kill our best chance at fixing the border.”

    “They want amendments? Go on the bill, we’ll give you amendments. They want some time? Go on the bill, we can spend time debating it,” Schumer said. “But vote ‘no’ says you don’t even want to debate or move forward on the bill. It’s a rejection that totally flies in the face of what the American people want.”

    Schumer plans to force a procedural vote on an emergency aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan on Wednesday — and drop the new border deal — after Republicans block the larger package, according to a Democratic aide.

    McConnell and other top Republicans have endorsed the move, so it’s possible Schumer could get the 60 votes needed to take up the aid package. But Speaker Johnson has opposed tying these all together, so taking this step would set up a showdown with the House.

    McConnell on Tuesday argued that the Senate needs to change course on the national security package and focus on providing foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

    “There are other parts of this supplemental that are extremely important as well: Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan. We still, in my view, ought to tackle the rest of it, because it’s important. Not that the border isn’t important, but we can’t get an outcome,” McConnell told CNN’s Manu Raju. “So that’s where I think we ought to head, and it’s up to Senator Schumer to decide how to repackage this if in fact we don’t go on to it.”

    This story has been updated with additional information.



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