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Senate Border Bill Fails – On to Plan B

Next stop: Ukraine funding free from US border restrictions.

The long-awaited border policy and Ukraine funding bill withered and died on the vine Wednesday, February 7. The Senate failed to even agree to vote on the actual package, with the cloture vote failing 49-50. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) knew it was dead on arrival – and would have been in the House, even if senators had passed it. But now it’s on to Plan B: a bill to send more US tax dollars to Ukraine, Israel, and Palestinians in Gaza without any burdensome border reforms weighing it down.

A Doomed Vote

After the details of the much-ballyhooed bill were revealed Sunday, many Republicans in both chambers took to social media to deride the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024. “I’ve seen enough,” Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) said on X. “This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created.”

new banner Congressional Clown ShowKnowing the package would sink in the House – and at least suspecting he wouldn’t get the 60 votes needed to float it in the Senate – Schumer announced that he’d bring the bill to a vote anyway, giving vulnerable Democrats in the upper chamber a “yea” on the record they can campaign on, as well as cleaning the slate to make room for his backup plan.

The vote to invoke cloture – that is, to end debate and force a vote on the measure – came in at 49-50 after Schumer changed his own vote to “nay.” While Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Utah’s Mitt Romney, and the GOP’s lead negotiator, James Lankford of Oklahoma, did vote in favor of it, an equal number of Democrats – Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bob Menedez of New Jersey and California’s Alex Padilla – opposed it for their own reasons.

Plan B: All the Foreign Funding, None of That Border Bulk

The now-dead package would have sent more than $60 billion to Ukraine, $14 billion to Israel, $10 billion to humanitarian efforts in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine, and almost $5 billion to Taiwan. Tied to this foreign funding, however, was $20 billion worth of border money that would have hired more agents and folks to process asylum requests and expand detention facilities. The attached policy updates would have ended the catch-and-release program and required the Biden administration to shut down the border after a certain threshold of average daily encounters was reached in a week.

Now the Senate is back to the drawing board, and the deal Schumer hopes to draft will include all the foreign funding Senators could want without any of the border bulk to weigh them down. But even foreign aid isn’t without its drama. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) balked at the now-dead bill over its funding for Israel.

“The Senate is considering a foreign aid supplemental bill that provides $10 billion more in U.S. military aid for the Netanyahu government to continue its horrific war against the Palestinian people. That is unconscionable,” Sanders tweeted. Warren agreed, posting: “Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing government have failed to get the hostages released and have killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians. No more blank checks for Netanyahu.” She went on to demand a new cease fire and the classic two-state solution that has been offered but never accepted by Palestinian leaders numerous times throughout the last half century or so.

With the “from the river to the sea” folks up in arms over any support of Israel and Republicans still demanding a shutdown of the US-Mexico border, can Plan B succeed where Plan A failed? Sen. Schumer may soon find himself working on Plan C: individual funding bills for each foreign war, or even Plan D: none of the above.

Read More From James Fite

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