Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), a key Senate Republican voice on national security and immigration issues, says that Democrats need to give Republicans a chance to amend the new border security deal or it will fail to muster enough votes to advance.
Graham was an early proponent of linking border security reforms to funding for the war in Ukraine, but now he says the deal produced by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) after four months of negotiations with Democrats needs to be improved.
“Now that the Senate’s national security supplemental text has been released, I look forward to the amendment process to try to improve the bill,” Graham said in a statement. “Something this significant cannot be rushed and jammed through. It should be subject to a robust debate and amendment process in the Senate.”
Graham warned that if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) fails to allow an open amendment process, “then the bill will die because of process.”
Graham declared “I am open-minded on steps we can take to make the bill stronger,” adding “that can only come through the amendment process.”
The South Carolina senator on in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” expressed doubt about passing the bill this week before the Senate is scheduled to take a two-week break for Presidents Day.
He called it the “oldest game in town” to “bring an important piece of legislation” to the floor “right before a holiday or right before a break.”
“Process-wise, we’re not going to deal with this next week, it’s too important,” he said.
Schumer says he will schedule a vote Wednesday to proceed to the legislative vehicle that will carry the bipartisan border deal along with $60 billion in funding for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.
At least two Democrats have expressed opposition to the border package — Sens. Alex Padilla (Calif.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.) — and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to vote against the bill unless it restricts military aid to Israel.
Sanders has called for holding back $10 billion in military aid to Israel that he says will be used to support the invasion of Gaza.
That means the $118 billion defense supplemental spending bill will need at least 12 Republican votes to pass the Senate.