Senate Republicans blocked a major bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package with assistance for Ukraine and Israel in a key vote on Wednesday amid a torrent of attacks on the bill by former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans.
The failed procedural vote amounts to a stunning rebuke by Senate Republicans of a deal that would have enacted restrictive border measures and was crafted in part by one of their own members – James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of the chamber’s most conservative senators. Republicans had demanded that border security be part of the bill, but have now rejected the deal after pressure from Trump, who is making the border a central campaign issue in his race for the White House.
The outcome leaves aid for Ukraine and Israel, two key US allies, in jeopardy at a critical time. In the aftermath of the vote, lawmakers will face increasing pressure to pass foreign aid on its own without any border provisions – an uncertain prospect as some Republicans are opposed to further aid to Ukraine.
The Senate voted Wednesday evening to take the first step toward debating the foreign aid package with the border security provisions stripped out. But a key test vote looms ahead, and it is unclear if that will succeed as Republicans are demanding an agreement to have their amendments to the underlying bill considered.
“We will recess until tomorrow and give our Republican colleagues time to figure themselves out,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday evening. “We’ll be coming back tomorrow at noon, and hopefully that will give the Republicans the time they need. We will have this vote tomorrow.”
Democrats have expressed outrage at Republicans for lining up in opposition to the border deal, arguing that they cannot be trusted as negotiating partners and saying that they are bowing to pressure from Trump to keep the border in the political spotlight.
While Trump and other Republicans had attacked the border deal as too weak, it would have marked a tough change to immigration law and would have given the president far-reaching powers to restrict illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. The Wall Street Journal editorial board has called the deal “the most restrictive migrant legislation in decades.”
The border deal was the product of months of negotiations with a trio of senators – Lankford, independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
In a moment of solidarity as the vote was getting underway, Sinema walked down a grand staircase near the Senate floor alongside Lankford and his wife who were holding hands.
The $118 billion legislative package that included the border deal as well as foreign aid would have provided aid to key US allies abroad, including billions of dollars to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia and security assistance for Israel, as well as humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.
There was also criticism of the bill from some Democrats. Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Alex Padilla of California both forcefully attacked the border deal.
Menendez called the deal “unacceptable” in a statement Sunday evening and said, “If these changes were being considered under Trump, Democrats would be in outrage, but because we want to win an election Latinos and immigrants now find themselves on the altar of sacrifice.”
Padilla said in a statement that the bill “misses the mark,” adding it will “cause more chaos at the border, not less,” and it “fails to provide relief for Dreamers, farm workers, and the other undocumented long-term residents of our country who contribute billions to our economy, work in essential jobs, and make America stronger.”
Many Republicans have attacked the border policy directly, and some have argued there should be more time to consider, debate and amend the bill after it was released on Sunday evening.
Schumer has harshly criticized Senate Republicans for opposing the package, accusing them of following Trump’s marching orders.
“We all know what’s going on here. Donald Trump would rather keep the chaos at the border so he can exploit it on the campaign trail, instead of letting the Senate do the right thing and fix it,” Schumer said on Tuesday. “And instead of standing up to Donald Trump, Senate Republicans are ready to kill our best chance at fixing the border.”
“They want amendments? Go on the bill, we’ll give you amendments. They want some time? Go on the bill, we can spend time debating it,” Schumer said. “But vote ‘no’ says you don’t even want to debate or move forward on the bill. It’s a rejection that totally flies in the face of what the American people want.”
McConnell on Tuesday argued that the Senate needs to change course on the national security package and focus on providing foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
“There are other parts of this supplemental that are extremely important as well: Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan. We still, in my view, ought to tackle the rest of it, because it’s important. Not that the border isn’t important, but we can’t get an outcome,” McConnell told CNN. “So that’s where I think we ought to head, and it’s up to Senator Schumer to decide how to repackage this if in fact we don’t go on to it.”
This story and headline have been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com