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US Senate unveils border deal that includes $60 billion in Ukraine aid

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 5, 2024 3:57 AM 3 min read
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a press conference on Nov. 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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U.S. senators released a highly anticipated bill on Feb. 4 that includes foreign aid packages for Ukraine and Israel as well as heavier restrictions on border and immigration policy, CNN and other news outlets reported.

Republicans legislators have refused to support a $61 billion Ukrainian aid package without funding being tied to border security reforms. Funds to Ukraine has been delayed for months as senators negotiated a deal that still faces harsh opposition in the House of Representatives.

The Senate is expected to hold a vote on the bill no later than Feb. 7.

The bill totals $118.2 billion, with $60 billion allocated to support Ukraine's security needs. The package also includes $14.1 billion in funding for Israel and over $20 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border.

If the bill passes, it would impose severe restrictions on immigration and asylum at the southern border. The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 18 that President Joe Biden was ready to make concessions on U.S. border policy to advance the funding package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the agreement was “a monumental step towards strengthening America’s national security abroad and along our border.”

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The bill will likely face stiff opposition from hard-line Republicans in the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson warned any agreement would be "dead on arrival."

Johnson said on Feb. 3 that the House will hold a vote next week on a standalone $17.6 billion aid package for Israel that excludes funding for Ukraine entirely.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is also the presumptive Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential elections, has lobbied allies in Congress to reject any bipartisan border agreement.

Before the details of the Senate deal were made public, Trump urged Republican legislators not to accept anything less than a "perfect deal" on border policy.

It remains unclear whether the Senate itself has enough support to pass the bill. Republican Senator John Thune told CNN he did not know whether the deal could win the necessary votes.

"It's become a target," he said, though he acknowledged that the agreement contained "a lot of really good conservative border policy."

The bill grants the U.S. Homeland Security Department emergency authority to limit border crossings if daily average migrant arrivals reach 4,000 over one week. The department would be required to invoke the authority if crossings reached 5,000 in that span.

It would also expedite deportations of those who do not qualify for asylum.

The European Union on Feb. 1 announced unanimous approval of a 50-billion euro ($54 billion) support package for Ukraine, which was blocked by Hungary in December. U.S. officials welcomed the news but said the EU could not support Ukraine on its own without U.S. military assistance.

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