US Senate defeats border deal, but aid to Israel may survive

Published February 8, 2024
US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters as he walks to his office at the Capitol on February 7 in Washington, DC. — AFP
US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters as he walks to his office at the Capitol on February 7 in Washington, DC. — AFP

WASHINGTON: Rep­u­blicans in the US Senate on Wednesday defeated a bipartisan effort to bolster border security that had taken months to negotiate, but said they could still approve aid for Israel and Ukraine that had been tied up in the deal.

By a vote of 49-50, the Senate failed to approve a $118 billion bipartisan package that would tigh­ten immigration laws, help Ukraine fight a Russian invasion and bolster Israel.

The measure needed 60 votes to advance, in the chamber, which Demo­crats control by a 51-49 margin.

For months, Republi­cans have insisted that any additional aid to the two US allies must also address the high number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border.

But many Republicans promp­tly rejected the package when it was released on Sunday, even though it contained many of their priorities.

Ex-president Trump has pressed them to reject any compromise as he campaigns to defeat Democratic President Biden in the November election.

Still, the defeat of the border bill left open the possibility that Congress could yet provide much-needed aid to the US allies Israel and Ukraine.

The Senate was expected to vote on a $96bn package that strips out the immigration provisions, but leaves the foreign aid intact.

An aide to Republican Senator Roger Wicker predicted that a foreign-aid package would get well over 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber — a rare show of cross-party support.

Even if it passes, that aid faces uncertain prospects in the House of Representatives, as Repub­licans who control that chamber have balked at further support for Ukraine.

“We’ll see what the Senate does. We’re allowing the process to play out,” House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2024

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