Schumer furious after Senate GOP block Ukraine aid bill due to lack of demanded funding for border security

December 7, 2023

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was infuriated with his Republican colleagues this week as they made good on a vow to block movement on a bill that would provide supplemental funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other matters, according to ABC News.

The sticking point for the GOP was the refusal of Senate Democrats to include in the $110 billion measure any additional funding or reform requirements for border security improvements and immigration law enforcement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stood resolute in his decision to encourage his fellow Republicans to vote against the supplemental aid bill if their demands on increased border security funding were not included in order "to make the point, hopefully for the final time, that we insist on meaningful changes to the border."

Senate Republicans stand firm

The Hill reported Wednesday that Sen. Schumer ignored the demands of his Republican colleagues to add funding and reforms for border security and immigration to the supplemental aid package for Ukraine and Israel requested by the Biden White House and instead moved forward with scheduling a procedural vote.

The standoff began last week during negotiations on the package when Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) added to the discussion a number of border-related issues that resembled a tough border security measure passed earlier in the year by the GOP-led House that Schumer had summarily dismissed as a "non-starter."

The Democratic Senate leader instead offered to throw in funding for other things like combatting fentanyl and letting Republicans be the first to put forward any amendments to the bill -- which would require 60 votes to be included -- but Sen. McConnell rejected that offer.

"I’m advocating and I hope all of our members vote no on the motion to proceed to the shell [bill] to make the point, hopefully for the final time, that we insist on meaningful changes to the border," McConnell told reporters Tuesday, and added of his Democratic colleagues, "They don’t want to deal with border security in the context of the supplemental. We do because we know that will guarantee an outcome" on necessary border security improvements and other reforms.

Schumer was also reportedly outraged that GOP senators had "hijacked" a classified briefing with military generals that was slated to be about the current situations in Ukraine and Israel but instead also included discussions about the lax security on the southern border.

Vote failed, as predicted

Roll Call reported Wednesday night that rather than acquiesce to Republican demands Sen. Schumer decided to press forward with a procedural vote to move forward with the supplemental aid package, only to then be forced to vote against the bill he insisted be brought to the floor.

The motion to proceed on the supplemental, which needed 60 votes to advance, failed by a margin of 49-51, as all Republicans who voted against it because of the border security exclusion were joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who voted against it for not including conditions and restraints on Israel, and Schumer, who voted against it as a procedural matter to be able to bring it up again later.

"If Republicans do not get serious very soon about a national security package, Vladimir Putin is going to walk right through Ukraine and right through Europe," Schumer said hyperbolically. "I hope they come up with something serious instead of the extreme policies they’ve come up with thus far."

Yet, McConnell seemed unfazed by his counterpart's rhetoric and said after the bill failed, "Fixing a badly broken asylum and parole system isn’t hijacking the supplemental. It’s strengthening it. Today’s vote is what it takes for the Democratic leader to recognize that Senate Republicans mean what we say."

The price Democrats have to pay

Leader McConnell's strong stance was backed up by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), per Roll Call, who made it clear that GOP demands on increased border security were not up for debate, and said, "This is not a traditional negotiation where you come up with a consensus provision. This is a price they have to pay to get the rest of the supplemental."

After the Democrat-backed bill was blocked, the Texas senator added, "We’ll start having a serious conversation. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that we’re probably not going to be able to pass the supplemental this year."

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