Some Senate Republicans are pushing to get stricter border security measures added to the foreign aid bill after tanking the bipartisan immigration deal.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Thursday filed an amendment to add hardline border security measures to the foreign aid standalone national security supplemental package that would send billions to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
“It is important that Russia lose and [Vladimir] Putin lose, but it is even more urgent that we defend our nation first. I will fund military aid to Ukraine, but only after we enact meaningful measures to secure America’s own border,” Cruz told Fox News Digital.
Cruz’s amendment is identical to H.R. 2, known as the “Secure the Border Act,” the border security bill that the House passed last year to restore most Trump-era policies and reform asylum.
It’s considered a “nonstarter” by Democrats in the upper chamber, making the likelihood of passage very low. It’s unclear whether the amendment will even get a vote.
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“H.R. 2 is the only serious border legislation that has been considered this Congress, and it contains real solutions for the border crisis like building the wall, tightening asylum standards, reinstating the remain in Mexico policy, increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, and more,” Cruz said.
Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would permit Republicans to offer amendments, though the schedule is still up in the air.
“I hope our Republican colleagues can work with us to reach an agreement on amendments so we can move this process along,” Schumer said on the floor Friday. “Democrats are willing to consider reasonable and fair amendments here on the floor as we’ve shown on many occasions in the past three years. Nevertheless, the Senate will keep working on this bill until the job is done.”
Behind the scenes, though, several aides told Fox News Digital on Friday that they had “no idea” what’s going on, as the “schedule is still very much in flux.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also expressed support for adding H.R. 2 to the package in a post on X.
Cornyn voted against the inclusion of the long-awaited bipartisan border bill in the foreign aid package on Wednesday, but indicated he could support the Ukraine aid without any border security measures.
“This bill is far from perfect,” Cornyn wrote. “I am disappointed the Senate’s border proposal fell woefully short of actually securing our border, & I am pushing to add HR2 to this legislation. But we can’t let President Biden’s abysmal border policy prevent us from supporting our troops & allies.”
Senators sunk the passage of the revised national security supplemental package this week in a 49-50 vote, which included a bipartisan border bill that Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla.; Krysten Sinema, I-Ariz.; and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., negotiated in collaboration with Biden officials.
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After the national security supplemental with border provisions failed, Schumer brought the $95 billion foreign aid bill to the floor as plan B, which advanced in a 67-32 cloture vote Wednesday.
The package includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza and nearly $5 billion for the Indo-Pacific.
Numerous Republicans previously said they would not approve additional funding for Ukraine unless the overwhelmed southern border was secured first.
The Senate will hold more procedural votes Friday and over the weekend. Votes are also expected on Super Bowl Sunday, and aides told Fox News Digital the vote for final passage is possible on Tuesday.
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Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a strong proponent of supporting Ukraine, advocated funding for Ukraine and voted to advance the bill, but drew criticism from party members who urged lawmakers not to pass foreign aid without securing the border first.
After senators voted to shoot down the border bill, McConnell said he “followed the instructions” of the GOP conference “who were insisting that we tackle this in October.”
“I mean, it’s actually our side that wanted to tackle the border issue,” McConnell said this week.