NewsSenate reaches cross-party agreement on Ukraine aid linked to immigration reform

Senate reaches cross-party agreement on Ukraine aid linked to immigration reform

Is the US Congress closer to approving aid for Ukraine? There is an agreement in the Senate.
Is the US Congress closer to approving aid for Ukraine? There is an agreement in the Senate.
Images source: © EPA, PAP | MICHAEL REYNOLDS
1:56 PM EST, February 2, 2024

"Republicans have been calling for increased border security and a bipartisan bill to achieve this. We've reached an agreement," Murphy wrote on X portal. He confirmed that the bill text would be published over the weekend, and a vote would be held next week. "The time for decision-making has come," he asserted.

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Working alongside Republican James Lankford and Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Murphy is the primary author of this bill. While exact details have not been disclosed yet, it is anticipated to allocate over $105 billion to aid Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, as well as to bolster the security of the US's southern border. The bill is also said to include reforms to tighten restrictions around asylum procedures.

Based on the comments from key politicians and press leaks, one of these provisions appears to be christening the criteria for examining asylum applications, giving the President special powers to suspend the reception of new claims and expedite the deportation of migrants not fitting these criteria. These new regulations, believed to be the most restrictive in the country's history, are endorsed by Lankford and President Biden.

How Will the House of Representatives Respond?

Despite these developments, the fate of the bill is uncertain. Initially, the Republicans insisted on border enhancements in exchange for supporting aid to Ukraine. However, House of Representatives Republicans, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, have hinted at a potential rejection of the bill, arguing it does not go far enough. Johnson also maintains that the President already possesses sufficient powers to secure the border.

Donald Trump is publicly and vigorously campaigning against the bill. Conversely, several Democrats, alongside a few Republicans, believe that some conservatives' resistance is due to pressure from the former president, who is using the border crisis as a significant election campaign issue.

Lankford has concluded that reluctance from some party members to continue supporting Ukraine is the actual issue behind this backlash. Oklahoma's party structures formally reprimanded Lankford for his part in the bill's negotiation.

Passing this new package is critical for the United States to proceed with its aid to Ukraine. Almost all assistance was put on hold when the last weapons package for Kyiv was announced late last year. In October, the White House requested additional funds totaling around $40 billion for military purposes -- primarily to replenish resources depleted by weapons transfers to Ukraine -- and nearly $12 billion in financial aid.

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