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May 29, 2024

Congressional Negotiations for Ukraine Aid and Border Security Hit Impasse as Recess Looms

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Dec 19, 2023

Background

Congress has been negotiating legislation to provide additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as it defends against Russia’s invasion, while also addressing issues around immigration and border security.

Earlier this month, President Biden hosted Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Washington, where Zelenskyy made an impassioned plea for continued US support. Congress broadly agrees on providing more assistance to Ukraine, but Republicans have been demanding changes to border policies in exchange for their votes on a Ukraine package.

The two issues were linked in an effort to craft a bipartisan deal that could pass the narrowly divided Congress before the holidays. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, while Republicans will take control of the House in January after midterm election gains.

Negotiations Break Down

After missing an initial self-imposed deadline last Friday, key senators spent the weekend trying to hammer out an agreement. However, significant obstacles remain as senators have been unable to compromise on immigration enforcement policies.

“I don’t see a deal coming together anytime soon,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday, echoing the sentiments of other Republicans involved in the talks.

Areas of disagreement center around efforts to set limits on asylum claims at the US-Mexico border, expand detention capacities, and increase resources for immigration authorities. Meanwhile, Democrats are resisting rolling back protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.

“We have not reached agreement on the remaining issues, particularly asylum,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin confirmed.

Outlook Appears Grim

With the holiday recess looming, time is running out to pass legislation before a new Congress is seated in January. The incoming House Republican majority has signaled unwillingness to approve additional Ukraine assistance without significant border security measures.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had planned to keep the chamber in session this week to allow more time for a deal. However, he announced those plans have been canceled as talks remain stalled.

Congress now appears likely to punt both issues into next year. The postponement casts further uncertainty over Ukraine policy amid reports some House Republicans want to curb funding. Experts say delays could exacerbate recent battlefield gains by Russian forces.

“It’s unconscionable that Senate Republicans are playing political games and holding up urgently-needed aid to Ukraine,” said Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

What Comes Next?

Congress enacted $40 billion in security assistance for Ukraine in May 2022, with the Pentagon warning those funds will be depleted by early 2023. Officials have requested around $38 billion more from Congress to sustain weapons transfers over the next year.

With agreement out of reach before Christmas, lawmakers could take up a pared-down, short-term bill continuing existing funding into the new year. However, that would fall well short of Ukraine’s needs.

Meanwhile, the failure to reach an immigration deal represents another setback for the Biden administration on an issue that has bedeviled both parties for decades. The White House invested significant political capital trying to break the impasse, but Republicans continue pushing for more stringent policies opposed by Democrats.

That gridlock now seems certain to continue when the GOP takes control of the House in January, foreclosing major legislation on immigration for at least the next two years of divided government.

Tables

Date Event
December 21 Congress expected to pass stopgap bill extending current Ukraine aid into early 2023
January 3 New Congress seated, Republicans take majority control of House
January-February With House in GOP hands, uncertainties persist around size and scope of future Ukraine assistance
February Pentagon projects existing Ukraine aid money runs out
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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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