Sinema, Graham Throw Down Over Border Bill

Senators got testy over Graham's 'no' vote on bipartisan legislation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2024 7:42 AM CST
GOP Senator Slams Sinema for 'Half-Ass' Border Deal
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., is seen during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 31.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan border bill on Wednesday, and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is steamed. On Thursday, the upper chamber voted to start working on separate $95 billion legislation regarding aid for Ukraine and Israel—which Republicans originally indicated they wanted tied to the border bill that they ultimately rejected. Some GOPers wanted to return to the border issue, suggesting tweaking some of the language to make the bill stricter on that matter, and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham was one of them. "I am not going to put Ukraine, Israel, or anybody else ahead of America," Graham insisted, per the AP. "I am going to try to create an outcome where the bill gets through the House. It's got to get through the House."

Sinema pushed back at Graham, blasting him for voting to rebuff even a conversation on the topic during the first vote on Wednesday, when he could've discussed any amendments he had in mind. "If we had wanted to have a robust debate ... the time to do that would have been yesterday," the Arizona senator noted. That's when the "fireworks started to fly," as the Hill puts it. "This has been a half-ass effort to deal with border security," Graham scoffed, adding that "the fix is in," and that he didn't think Democrats would've given him the chance to add any meaningful amendments that had a chance of passing.

This peeved Sinema even more, as she'd reportedly worked on the 250-page legislation over the Thanksgiving and winter holidays. She pointed out to Graham that amendments are considered only after senators OK a motion to move on to a bill, per Senate floor protocol, and that "Sen. Graham's team and Sen. Graham himself were integral parts" of the monthslong negotiations. Dem Chris Murphy, who worked on the bill alongside Sinema and Republican Sen. James Lankford, backed up Sinema. "His top staff were in the room when we negotiated the bill," Murphy said of Graham. "We negotiated key provisions directly with him." C-SPAN has video of some of the back-and-forth. (More Lindsey Graham stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.