Senate prepares for test vote on aid to Israel and Ukraine amid standoff over border security

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on November 15, 2023 in Washington, DC.

The Senate is expected to hold a vote Wednesday on a bid to advance aid to Ukraine and Israel, but Republicans are poised to block the measure as a result of a standoff over border security.

Senate Republicans have pushed to freeze foreign aid Along with major border security policy changes, and although bilateral talks have taken place to find a consensus, the two sides remain far apart. It is unclear whether an agreement will be reached on the contentious issue, a critical point that threatens to derail the aid package.

The standoff comes amid Israel’s war against Hamas and Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression. White House Gave a stern warning Funds for Ukraine ran out earlier this week and failure to secure an agreement to approve aid would present significant national security risks.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans will block the bill when it comes to a vote because it does not adequately address border security.

“Senate Republicans are going to refuse to shut down a bill that seriously ignores America’s key national security priorities. As we have said for weeks, legislation that does not include policy changes to secure our borders will not pass the Senate,” he said on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has accused Republicans of being “hostages” because the path forward for aid to Ukraine and Israel remains unclear.

Schumer opened the debate on foreign aid and promised Republicans the First Amendment to address their border policy demands.

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“Would senators agree to start a debate, just a debate, on an issue so important that it goes to the true defense of Western and democratic values ​​in the world to protect America’s national security?” he asked. “Or will senators block extremist border policies from moving forward?”

Schumer warned on Tuesday that “those who think that without more help from Congress, Ukraine will collapse, democracy in Europe will suffer, and Vladimir Putin will stop in Ukraine, history’s clear and unambiguous warnings are willfully ignored.”

President Joe Biden made an urgent call for Congress to provide aid for Ukraine in an impassioned speech Wednesday.

“Make no mistake: today’s vote will be remembered for a long time. Also, history is going to judge those who turned their backs on the freedom struggle. “Putin cannot be allowed to win,” Biden said.

Senate Democrats have released a legislative text for a $110 billion defense assistance package, which includes funding for Israel and Ukraine and humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza. The bill contains border security provisions, but no bilateral agreement has been reached on the issue.

In November, the GOP controlled the House A bill was passed $14.3 billion in aid to Israel. Democrats, however, took issue with the bill over enacting funding cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and the fact that it did not include aid to Ukraine.

Speaker Mike Johnson has also emphasized the importance of border security. “Any national security package must start with the security of our own border,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.

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This story has been updated with additional updates.

CNN’s Haley Talbot and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

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