The Republican Party is linking new U.S. aid to Ukraine to border security, making funding by the end of the year seem unlikely

(Stephanie Scarbrough/Associated Press)

The Republican Party is linking new U.S. aid to Ukraine to border security, making funding by the end of the year seem unlikely



Dec. 9, 2023

An agreement

to further provide what President Biden has requested

US aid to Ukraine by the end of the year appears increasingly out of reach.

for President Joe Biden. The impasse in Congress is deepening

Despite dire warnings from the White House about the consequences of inaction,



in Congress will continue

insist on combining the aid with changes in America’s immigration and border policies.

After the Democratic president said last week that he was willing to make major compromises on the border, Republicans quickly revived demands they had previously set aside, hardening their positions and seeking to shift negotiations to the right , according to a person familiar with the border. conversations who were not authorized to discuss them publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The latest proposal, from the lead GOP negotiator, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), came during a meeting with a core group of senators before they left Washington Thursday afternoon. It could force the White House to consider ideas that many Democrats will strongly oppose, creating new obstacles in the difficult negotiations.

Biden faces the prospect that a cornerstone of his foreign policy, which has kept Russian President Vladimir Putin from overtaking Ukraine, crumbles as U.S. support for funding the war wanes, especially among Republicans. The White House says failure to approve more aid by the end of the year could have catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and its ability to fight.

To maintain U.S. support, the Biden administration has quietly held Senate talks on border policy in recent weeks, offering help to the small group of senators trying to reach a deal and communicating what policy changes it would find acceptable .

The president is trying to meet Republican Party demands to reduce the historic number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, while allaying Democrats’ fears that legal immigration will be stifled with drastic measures.

While the conversations sputtered


Last week, Democrats warned Republicans that time for an agreement was running out. Congress is expected to leave Washington for the holidays in mid-December.

Republicans must show they are serious about reaching a compromise, not just trashing Senate Majority Leader Donald Trump’s border policies

Chuck Charles E.





said Thursday before Republicans made their counteroffer.

But the new Republican proposal delved into policy changes that had led Democrats to withdraw from negotiations, the person familiar with the talks said. The Republican Party is calling for an end to the humanitarian parole program now in place for existing groups of migrant Ukrainians, Afghans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. That idea had previously been all but rejected.

Furthermore, these groups of migrants should not be paroled again if the conditions of their stay expire before their cases are heard in the immigration proceedings.

Republican senators proposed monitoring systems such as ankle bracelets for people, including children, detained at the border and awaiting parole. Republicans want to ban people from seeking asylum if they have traveled through another country where they could have sought asylum instead. Republican lawmakers also want to revive executive power, which allows a president to deny access for a variety of reasons.

Additionally, after migrant encounters at the border recently reached historic numbers, the Republican Party’s proposal would establish new guidelines requiring the border to effectively close if illegal crossings reach a certain limit.

Lankford declined to discuss details after Thursday’s meeting but said he was trying to negotiate in good faith. He said the historic number of migrants at the border could not be ignored. The sheer number of people arriving at the border has overwhelmed the shelter. system, he said, making it impossible for authorities to adequately screen the people they let in.

“Do you want large numbers of undocumented and unscreened individuals without work permits, without access to the rest of the economy?” Lankford said.

The lead Democratic negotiator, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, did not respond quickly to the Republican Party’s proposal.

Senators had made some progress in the talks before Thursday, finding general agreement on raising the initial standard for migrants to enter the asylum system, part of what is called the credible fear system. The administration has signaled it is open to that change and will agree to expand expedited removal to deport immigrants before they have a hearing before an immigration judge, according to two people briefed on the private negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Immigration advocates and progressives in Congress are alarmed by the direction of the talks, especially since they do not include changes aimed at expanding legal immigration.

Robyn Barnard, director of refugee advocacy at Human Rights First, called the current state of negotiations an absolute crisis moment. She warned that expanding rapid deportation authority could lead to a mass roundup of immigrants across the country and compared it to the situation during the Trump administration. Communities across the country would be living in fear, she said.

But Republican senators, sensing that Biden, who is campaigning for a second term, wants to address the historic numbers of people coming to the border, have taken an aggressive stance and tried to draw the president directly into the negotiations.

The White House will especially have to take action if the Democrats in the Senate are not willing to do what we propose, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) said at a press conference on Thursday.

The White House has so far declined to take a leading role in the negotiations. Democrats have said they want to make compromises. “Go have that conversation,” White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre said.

After every Republican senator voted last week not to move forward with legislation that would provide tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Ukraine, many in the room were left in a sad mood. Even those who held out hope for an agreement acknowledged that getting a package through the Senate at this late stage would be difficult.

Even if senators reach an agreement, the obstacles to passage in the House of Representatives are significant. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has indicated he will fight for sweeping changes to immigration policy that go beyond what’s being debated in the Senate. Broad support from the Democrats in the House of Representatives is also far from guaranteed, like the progressives and the Democrats

Spanish Latino

Lawmakers have sounded the alarm about restricting access to asylum.

Trading Ukrainian lives for the lives of asylum seekers is morally bankrupt and irresponsible, Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as part of a coordinated campaign by

Spanish Latino


The unwieldiness of the issue made even Lankford, who was one of a handful of senators, optimistic that an agreement could be reached this year, while acknowledging that reaching an agreement in the coming days would be difficult.

There’s just a lot of politics involved, he said as he left the Capitol this week. For 30 years it has still not been solved because it is incredibly complicated.”

___Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.


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