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Schumer sets up Ukraine, Israel aid vote despite floundering border talks

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday teed up the first procedural vote on President Biden’s $106 billion supplemental package to send aid to Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific countries and for humanitarian purposes in Gaza. 

Schumer set up the planned cloture vote on a shell bill, which is slated to take place later in the week. He said moving forward on the measure is necessary as Ukraine is running out of resources needed to continue its war against the Russian invasion. 

“I urge every single senator to think where we are at this moment in history. America’s national security is on the line around the world — in Europe, in the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific,” Schumer said on the floor. “[The supplemental] could determine the trajectory of democracy for years to come. We are at a moment in history.” 

However, the bill is unlikely to overcome this initial hurdle.

Republicans have said that they will vote against proceeding on the supplemental bill if there is no border component attached. The GOP says a border deal is paramount to winning their support for the bill as it will not get across the finish line in the House without it. 

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the top Democratic negotiator, told reporters that talks have broken down as Republicans have refused to back off what he described as “take it or leave it” demands.

“That’s what it feels like. That Republicans want us to swallow their most difficult proposals and aren’t interested in sitting down and working this out,” Murphy added.

Talks have centered on curtailing asylum and parole claims, but progressives have cried foul in recent weeks over what they viewed as Democrats giving up too many concessions in talks. On the other side of the aisle, conservatives have been vocal that H.R. 2, the GOP’s hard-line border security bill, should be the basis of discussions, which Democrats consider to be a non-starter. 

Top administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, are set to brief all senators Tuesday on the situation in Ukraine. The briefing will be classified. 

Schumer announced that the administration also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to address senators via a secure video to lay out the situation facing Kyiv. 

There is no hard and fast deadline for lawmakers to pass a supplemental bill, which could hypothetically stretch into next year. But the White House on Monday said it would run out of aid for Ukraine by the end of the year without congressional action.

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