American legislators have reconvened and are currently addressing issues regarding border protection and providing assistance to Ukraine.
American legislators returned to work this week following a three-week break, with the goal of reaching an agreement on border security in exchange for Republican support in providing additional assistance to Ukraine.
Senator Chris Murphy, a key negotiator in the talks, stated to the press on Tuesday that we are currently closer to reaching an agreement than at any point since the talks began.
“I hope we were not in this situation. I hope Senate Republicans would provide aid to Ukraine because they believe in its cause,” he stated. “I wish our support for Ukraine was not dependent on resolving the complex issue of immigration reform in American politics.”
The White House has requested a national security supplemental budget of $106 billion, which includes funds for border security, as well as $14 billion in aid to Israel and funding for Taiwan to counter China’s potential threat.
During the three-week break in Congress, the Senate negotiators continued to have remote meetings.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, stated to reporters on Tuesday that a lot of effort is being put into reaching a deal to enhance the situation at the border. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that the world is currently experiencing a state of war. According to McConnell, this is the most critical global issue since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is imperative that we pass the supplemental and include a sturdy border provision within it.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, the United States has committed over $100 billion to providing military aid and assistance to Ukraine. President Joe Biden has also requested an additional $60 billion from Congress. However, some Republicans in Congress are growing doubtful about the necessity of continuing to fund Ukraine’s defense.
On December 27, the Pentagon declared a fresh security assistance plan worth $250 million for Ukraine. This includes extra ammunition for surface-to-air missile systems, artillery rounds, and air defense components. The Pentagon still has $4 billion left to support Ukraine with military aid, but there are no funds currently allocated to restock the U.S. military’s supplies. According to officials, no further aid packages will be given until Congress approves more funding.
The Senate Republicans have linked their support for providing more funds to Ukraine with the implementation of stricter immigration policies. These policies are intended to decrease the number of individuals entering the US through its southern border without authorization and to deport those who are currently residing in the country unlawfully.
In December 2023, several news outlets reported that approximately 300,000 individuals crossed the border between the United States and Mexico. This figure is the largest number of recorded border crossings to date.
If a deal is approved by the Senate, it may not be successful in the House due to the Republicans’ small majority. Many Republican House members are against giving more assistance to Ukraine, and the party recently removed a speaker who worked with Democrats to pass bills in early October.
Last week, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson led a delegation of 60 House Republicans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border at Eagle Pass, Texas.
Johnson stated at a press conference about the border that if President Biden intends to propose a supplementary budget for national security, it must prioritize protecting the country’s security.
The Republicans have put forward their own bill, H.R. 2, which aims to continue building a border wall and implement additional limitations for those seeking asylum.
Carla Babb, a correspondent for VOA at the Pentagon, provided additional information for this report.