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Senator: Congress 'not anywhere close' to deal on Ukraine aid

by Abbey Fenbert December 18, 2023 3:51 AM 1 min read
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a press conference on border security at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 7, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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U.S. lawmakers will not be able to reach a deal on border policy and Ukraine aid by the end of the year, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC News on Dec. 17.

"We feel like we're being jammed. We’re not anywhere close to a deal. It’ll go into next year," Graham said.

Republicans and Democrats have been working through the weekend to hammer out a deal on border security before lawmakers leave for the holiday recess. Without a deal, Republicans will continue to block billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine included in U.S. President Joe Biden's national security supplemental request.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will reconvene on Dec. 18 to vote on the aid package.

Despite extending negotiations through the weekend, senators appear to be no closer to an agreement.

According to CNN, 15 Republican senators, including Graham, sent a letter Dec. 17 to John Barrasso, chair of the Senate Republican Conference, calling for a special conference meeting in January and criticizing the “rushed and secret” negotiations.

Sources close to the talks told CNN that lawmakers were at an impasse over certain border policy proposals, including mandatory detention policies and restrictions that would essentially prevent migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Republicans are demanding tighter border restrictions before they will budge on the aid package, but conceding to these demands would mean embracing potentially xenophobic policies that are deeply unpopular with the Democratic base.

Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients on Dec. 16 to discuss their growing alarm over possible provisions in the border deal.

If legislators do not reach a deal before the holiday recess, the White House may not be able to keep its promises of uninterrupted military aid to Ukraine. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters last month that "the window is closing" on reaching a deal to supply Ukraine.

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