WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — Republicans of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday blocked a procedural vote on a bill that included funding for Ukraine and Israel amid their respective conflicts, citing a lack of policy changes in the measures to improve security on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from the state of Vermont, joined all of the chamber’s 49 Republicans in casting the “no” vote, blocking the 111 billion-dollar package from advancing in the chamber.
A threshold of 60 votes in favour is needed for the bill to pass. The final tally was 51-49, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, flipping his vote from “yes” to “no” so that he would be able to reintroduce the bill in the future.
The bill includes 61.4 billion dollars in military and economic aid for Ukraine, 14.3 billion dollars in assistance for Israel, as well as spending on other international hotspots.
Following the vote, Schumer said on the Senate floor that it was “a very sad day,” and that Republicans “must get serious” about helping Ukraine succeed in its conflict with Russia.
The current package does include money aimed at tightening border security, in ways that still fall short of demands from Republicans, who are now expected to offer a countermeasure containing their proposal for enhanced border security.
Schumer said Democrats are willing to debate what Republicans have to offer, urging Republicans to debate the existing proposal and make their counteroffer an amendment so that talks could proceed.
The latest proposal by Republicans, Schumer said, was “far away from what anyone could accept on our side.”
Also speaking on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “Senate Republicans know this isn’t an either-or proposition. We know that national security begins with border security.”
The Kentucky Republican blamed the Democratic leadership for willingly avoiding “fixing our borders right here at home.”
In a televised speech at the White House earlier on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden urged Congress to approve his supplemental budget request containing the aforementioned amount of funding for Ukraine.
Biden signalled a willingness to “make significant compromises on the border” in exchange for Republicans dropping their hold on further aid for Ukraine. (Xinhua)