McConnell's Vote Kills Border Bill

Border-foreign aid package falls well short of 60 votes in Senate
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2024 2:30 PM CST
Border Bill Defeated in Senate Vote
Sen. James Lankford, the lead GOP negotiator on a border-foreign aid package, speaks with reporters outside the chamber at the Capitol in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The border security and foreign assistance bill that a bipartisan group of senators spent months crafting failed in the Senate Wednesday after a collapse in Republican support. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had championed the bill until his fellow Republicans turned against it amid pressure from Donald Trump, cast the 41st vote against advancing the legislation, leaving it with no chance of reaching the 60-vote threshold, the New York Times reports. Several Democrats also voted against the bill, arguing that some of its border policies were too restrictive. The final vote was 49 to 50.

Republican Sen. James Lankford was the chief GOP negotiator, and the BBC reports that his "exasperation was clear" as he made a final pitch for it Wednesday. "We knew from the beginning, it wasn't going to be perfect, but the status quo is untenable," the Oklahoma lawmaker said. Lankford, one of the few Republicans to vote to advance the bill, said his staff had missed Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations to work on the legislation. He said a "popular commentator" had threatened to "destroy" him if he tried to pass border reforms during an election year. GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Lisa Murkowski also voted to advance the bill.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray accused Republicans of seeking to campaign on the border crisis instead of fixing it. "You don't let a fire burn because Donald Trump wants to campaign on ashes," she said. The bill—which included $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel—was crafted after Republicans said foreign assistance must be paired with border reforms, the AP reports. When it became clear that the border bill was doomed, Schumer said a separate vote would be held on just the foreign aid part of the package. "Will the Senate stand up to brutish thugs like Vladimir Putin and reassure our friends abroad that America will never abandon them in the hour of need?" he said. (More US-Mexico border stories.)

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