The Senate killed off the $118 billion bipartisan border and foreign aid bill when a procedural vote on the hard-fought compromise failed Wednesday afternoon following a Republican revolt.
The legislation that included funding for Ukraine, Israel, and border security provisions needed 60 votes to advance its first legislative hurdle but fell short by a 49-50 vote. Republicans overwhelmingly voted no, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who once championed the monthslong bipartisan negotiations that produced the border proposal but reversed course when he saw no chance for the bill to become law.
Senators on the progressive Left also rejected the legislation with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) among the no votes, as well as Hispanic Democratic Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed for the procedural vote on the full bill even though it was clear it would not receive enough support from Republicans, a political move to give battleground state Democrats the chance to vote for it and argue that they tried to fix the border crisis only to be blocked by Republicans.
Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and officials from the White House worked together on the bill for months and unveiled it on Sunday, but Republicans, led by former President Donald Trump, rejected it. Republicans wanted more restrictive immigration policies in exchange for approving Ukraine aid.
The bill included more than $60 billion to Ukraine to fight off Russia’s invasion, $20 billion to address the border crisis, $14.1 billion in security assistance to Israel, $10 billion in humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine, $4.8 billion to help Taiwan and Indo-Pacific allies, and an additional $2.4 billion to support U.S. Central Command operations in the Red Sea, according to details from the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Lankford, the GOP’s lead negotiator on the agreement, took to the Senate floor to discuss how frustrating the negotiation process has been, after watching the bill fall apart this week as members of his own party abandoned the legislative text within days after it was released.
“Some of them have been very clear with me, they have political differences with the bill. They say it’s the wrong time to solve the problem or let the presidential election solve the problem,” Lankford said.
The Oklahoma senator also spoke out about false claims made about the bill.
“What has been told has been false, day after day. And then, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a few folks that have said if I can’t get everything, I want nothing,” he said. “I don’t find most Americans are that way just in their day-to-day life.”
Sinema, who has seen the border crisis play out in her home state of Arizona, also attempted to refute claims about the bill that she claimed inaccurate.
“I’ve refuted the lie that says our bill allows 5,000 migrants to enter the country every day. In fact, our bill stops migrants from coming into the country every day,” Sinema said.
Following the vote, Schumer is expected to bring up much narrower legislation on the floor without the border security provisions that would include funding for Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific region. The second version of the bill will still include provisions targeting fentanyl trafficking, which was part of the immigration deal.
“So first Republicans said they would only do Ukraine and Israel and humanitarian aid with border. Then they said they would not do it with border. Well, we’re going to give them both options. We’ll take either one,” Schumer said Wednesday.
“We knew about a week ago when Trump mixed in and said you know, wanted to be political and said he’d prefer chaos at the border because he thinks it helps him electorally. We knew that we might have to have a second option,” Schumer added.
Lankford would not go so far as to say the efforts to block the bill from moving forward have anything to do with Trump’s reelection bid.
“I don’t know. A lot of people have said it to me. Everybody’s got their own decisions and how they’re going to make decisions on what they’re gonna do,” Lankford said following his speech.
Sinema addressed the politics of the immigration bill and issued a warning.
“If you want to spin the border crisis for your own political agendas, go right ahead. If you want to continue to use the southern border as the backdrop for your political campaign, that’s fine. Good luck to you, but I have a very clear message for anyone using our southern border for staged political events. Don’t come to Arizona,” she said. “Take your political theatre to Texas.”