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GOP leadership says national security package must include stricter border policies to pass Senate

Senate Republicans are vowing to block the passage of President Biden’s $106 billion national security package out of the upper chamber unless it includes increased security and asylum reforms at the southern border.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged Democrats to negotiate with Republicans on stricter border policies to stop the influx of migrants into the United States. Republicans have been arguing for weeks that the current national security package lacks a proper strategy. 

“I called the president last week to make sure he understood that there wouldn’t be a bill without a credible effort to get on top of our disastrous southern border situation,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday after the GOP’s weekly luncheon resumed following the Thanksgiving recess. 

“I hope that made the point, because I think on our side, I’ve been the most enthusiastic supporter of the underlying bill, but this has to be part of it,” he said.

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Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., called the White House’s border security “a complete and utter failure” and said “there is no way” a supplemental will make its way out of the House and Senate “if it doesn’t address the national security crisis at our border.”

“We will insist on it,” he said. 

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., a member of the appropriations committee, slammed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for scheduling federal nominations this week instead of roll calls on appropriations bills. 

“He’s squandering good time and resources,” she said. 

The White House’s supplemental request, which was sent to Congress in October, includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel (with $10.6 billion allocated for military aid), $13.6 billion for some border security provisions, and significant investments in Indo-Pacific security assistance, totaling around $7.4 billion. Additionally, there’s $9 billion earmarked for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

The supplemental request only proposes more money to speed up the processing of migrants, but no policy reforms, setting up a showdown between Congress and the president.

SEN MARSHALL URGES GOP TO SAY ‘HELL NO’ TO SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING REQUEST WITHOUT TIGHTER BORDER SECURITY 

Meanwhile, Schumer blamed Republicans for the package’s “holdup” in a Dear Colleague letter sent on Sunday night. 

“The biggest holdup to the national security assistance package right now is the insistence by our Republican colleagues on partisan border policy as a condition for vital Ukraine aid. This has injected a decades old, hyper-partisan issue into overwhelmingly bipartisan priorities,” Schumer said in the letter.

On Tuesday, Schumer reiterated that point in a press conference following the caucus’ luncheon. 

Schumer said “a handful of Republicans have dangerously tried to link Ukraine aid” to border security.

Negotiations between Democrat and Republican senators continued over the Thanksgiving recess, and Schumer told reporters, “Republicans are making it difficult” for a bipartisan aid bill. 

McConnell also said Tuesday he received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thanksgiving. 

The minority leader said, “It’s important we don’t pressure the Israelis into a point where they can’t achieve their goal” in Gaza.

McConnell has been a staunch supporter of tying Israel and Ukraine aid together in the supplemental – another sticking point for a faction of GOP lawmakers who want the two voted on separately. Schumer also wants Israel and Ukraine to remain in one package. 

Schumer called an all-senators classified briefing on the situation in Ukraine this week. 

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