Ukraine and Israel aid bill stalled in Senate as divided GOP demands changes

Senators on Thursday raced to renew an emergency national security assistance bill for Ukraine and Israel that has stalled on Capitol Hill again amid Republican opposition.

Republicans, who voted Wednesday to block a version of the measure that included border restrictions, reiterated their support for moving forward with the foreign aid portions of the bill, which include $60.1 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel and $10 billion in humanitarian aid. . They demanded an opportunity to propose changes, including adding border controls — hours after blocking legislation that would have included bilateral border controls.

Fighting over what changes to seek, Republicans huddled behind closed doors at the Capitol Thursday morning to iron out their differences.

Senator Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat and majority leader, had planned a quick vote on the foreign aid-only measure on Wednesday, saying he now hopes it can happen by Thursday afternoon. The bill would need 60 votes to advance, which would require the support of at least 10 Republicans.

The impasse is the latest manifestation of a conflict that has stalled efforts to pass national defense spending bills in both houses of the GOP and Congress, as Republicans clash over how to address international crises without angering their party leader and presidential candidate, former President Donald J. Trump.

At Senate Republicans' opening Wednesday, Mr. Schumer has said he is likely to support moving forward with a clean foreign aid bill without border provisions, as long as he has the opportunity to propose changes to the terms agreed to in principle. Leaders on both sides were confident of gaining enough support to move the move forward quickly.

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But by evening, their confidence gave way to confusion as Republicans settled into a familiar crouch, torn between rival factions and unable to decide how to proceed. They spent Wednesday afternoon and evening fighting over which amendments to insist on — and some privately arguing that the bill should not be allowed to move forward.

After 7 pm, Mr. Schumer sent senators home to “give our Republican colleagues the night to find themselves,” promising to reconvene the Senate Thursday afternoon. But as of Thursday morning, GOP senators still hadn't settled on a way out — and it wasn't clear if they could resolve their differences anytime soon.

Republican senators are divided, with some staunchly supporting sending new military aid to Ukraine to fight Russian aggression, while those on the right strongly oppose doing so. Some GOP senators who support aid have criticized Mr. Given Trump's opposition, Democrats worry that doing so without exacting a price would compromise them politically in an election year.

Some Republican senators are likely to support the bill, even if it is amended, as long as the Senate is given a chance to vote on some of the proposed amendments. Eight Republicans — Minority Leader Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; Susan M. of Maine; Collins; John Kennedy of Louisiana; Jerry Moran of Kansas; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah; Thom Tillis of North Carolina; and Todd Young of Indiana — have already voted to move the measure past an initial procedural hurdle on Wednesday. Some said they would continue to support the bill.

“I'm going to be there at the back end of the action,” said Mr. Tillis said Thursday that the Senate should look to Ukraine — and all the other countries that still support its war against Russia — as well. Bill by. “Putin believes that failure to take this will happen this week, and I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that.”

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But other Republicans who championed aid for Ukraine still withheld their support. They include Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and James Lankford of Oklahoma. Mr. Lankford has spent the past four months negotiating a bipartisan deal to tie Ukraine funding to border security measures, a trade-off that Republicans had sought, which Republicans rejected Wednesday.

They are expected to be among the senators who insist on specific amendments as a precondition for their support.

“I'm not giving up on the border,” Mr. Graham said in an interview, despite voting earlier Wednesday to kill the Ukraine aid and border deal.

Among the border amendments brought by Republicans, Mr. It includes a measure that mimics Lankford's border deal and a more stringent immigration enforcement bill that House Republicans passed last spring.

There have been talks about withdrawing or replacing the Flores settlement agreement, which sets limits on how long children can be held in detention centers, but no decision has been made, said Senate aides who described the discussions on condition of anonymity. Do you want to continue the project?

Some Republican senators emerged from the party's morning meeting Thursday to say they also wanted amendment votes to change foreign aid portions of the bill before giving their support.

“I'm still focused on controlling the humanitarian component,” said Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, arguing that European countries could focus on sending economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine while “we focus on arms and our own industrial bases.”

But other Republican senators signaled that no amendment deal was enough to secure their vote.

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“That would be window dressing,” said Senator Mike Brown, Republican of Indiana. “Whenever the other side allows you to make amendments, they don't think it's ever going to get done.”

Democrats also have a wish list of proposed changes to the measure. Nearly 20 Democratic senators, most of them on the left wing of the party, have signed an amendment requiring recipients of security assistance to use weapons in accordance with US law, international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict. Blocks efforts to send humanitarian aid to civilians. Although the measure did not specifically mention Israel, it was inspired by senators' concerns about the country's bombing of the Gaza Strip in violation of international law.

Whether any of those senators get a chance to propose their preferred changes depends on whether the chamber can move to the next procedural vote to advance the bill. While some Republicans sounded optimistic that voting could begin soon, others who opposed the legislation vowed to make the process as long and painful as possible.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said, “I insist every minute of every day. “I want to be here for a week because I want to talk about what a disaster this bill is and how wrong it is to send our money to other countries before we fix our own problems.”

Carl Hulse Contributed report.

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