Senate Republicans object to foreign aid and border bill moving forward

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(WASHINGTON) -- As expected, the Senate's vote to advance a bipartisan foreign aid bill with major new border provisions failed on Wednesday. It's the first of two votes that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is forcing on the issue -- the second of which removes the border provisions but maintains its overseas funding measures.

In the initial procedural vote, the Senate split 49-50 on proceeding with the full bill, which includes money for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as the new border policy deal. Sixty votes were needed to advance the legislation.

Republicans in the Senate had signaled that they would sink the bill -- despite pleas from key negotiators just before the vote. The Senate had then been expected to vote Wednesday evening on the second option Schumer presented: a procedural vote on whether to begin debate on a national security package that included the foreign aid but none of the border provisions or funds.

It is still unclear whether that legislation will ultimately get the 60 votes necessary to advance to debate.

After more than four hours of holding the floor in limbo on Wednesday, the Senate went home for the night -- planning to come back on Thursday -- to see if they can work out a way to move forward.

Senate Republicans kept the floor paralyzed while they met behind the scenes to try to come up with a game plan as to whether they wanted to green-light moving forward on the package without the border and immigration changes. Some conservatives say they won't vote to move forward unless Schumer agrees to allow them a chance to vote on some amendments to the package.

In the first vote, several senators crossed party lines with Republican Sens. James Lankford, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney agreeing to move forward with the bill while the rest of Republicans voted against it. Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Alex Padilla and Bernie Sanders, an independent, voted against moving forward. The rest of the Democrats voted in favor of moving forward.

Schumer switched his vote to a no at the end -- a procedural move that allowed him the opportunity to call the bill back up for reconsideration at a later date if he so chooses.

Schumer earlier spoke to reporters about the Republican flip-flop on the border deal, noting that his GOP colleagues insisted on border provisions as a condition to passing Ukraine aid before changing their tune and suggesting moving forward on a package that drops the border provisions.

"So first Republicans said they would only do Ukraine and Israel humanitarian aid with border. Then they said they would not do it with border. Well, we're going to give them both options," he said. "We'll take either one. We just hope they can come to yes on something."

It could be another blow to congressional Republicans who suffered two disappointing losses in the House on Tuesday: the failure to pass the GOP-led impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the defeat of a stand-alone Israeli aid package.

Schumer said he began devising a Plan B for the border supplemental when former President Donald Trump began weighing in and it became clear Republicans were turning on the package.

It's not at all clear whether a national security supplemental without border provisions will get the 60 votes it needs to advance, but Schumer said he'd be willing to offer Republicans the opportunity to amend the package, if so.

A frustrated Lankford, who spent four months negotiating the border provisions with other senators, spoke on the floor before Wednesday's voting began and said that border security is a "problem that needs to be solved" and bipartisan collaboration is needed to pass border provisions.

"We need a change in law -- I understand we have differences, but we've got to sit down together to figure out how we will solve this problem because the American people sent us here to do that," he said.

The Oklahoma Republican said he remains willing to sit down with anyone who is interested in solving the problem at the border, because Americans are "ticked off" at the crisis and at congressional inaction.

"What I hear from most Oklahomans is, 'Do something. Don't just sit there, do something -- make progress but don't allow this to keep going. Stop it where you can.' So that's what we worked to do," Lankford said.

If the bill without border provisions does pass in the Senate, it's unclear whether House Speaker Mike Johnson might bring the bill to the floor. Schumer said he hopes Johnson does.

"The House is in chaos it doesn't behoove the speaker well to block everything because 30 hard-right-wing people just want chaos like Donald Trump does," Schumer said.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said "in principle" he supports a foreign aid-only package without border provisions if the Senate can pass one.

"It's certainly something that I support because we have to move forward in a comprehensive way to address our national security issues. After extreme Republicans have held our national security issues hostage around the border for months, and now have abandoned their own position," Jeffries said at his weekly news conference.

He said "there are several Republicans who are not in leadership" who have voiced "willingness" to work together to advance a national security package. He did not name any specific Republicans.

Jeffries said he hopes the House can advance a supplemental bill when the chamber returns next week.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 11:10PM by Mariam Khan and Allison Pecorin, ABC News Permalink