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Israel, Ukraine foreign aid bill clears first hurdle in Senate without border and immigration provisions

A foreign aid funding bill to provide tens of billions of dollars for Ukraine and Israel, without a previously-included border and immigration package, passed the first procedural hurdle in the Senate on Thursday amid Republican disarray.

The $95 billion package advanced in a 67 to 32 cloture vote, also known as a motion to limit debate on a bill and move to a final vote. It requires a three-fifths majority. Now, senators will enter into debate to add border amendments. 

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Pete Ricketts, Tommy Tuberville, Rick Scott, Mike Lee, Katie Britt, John Barrasso, Josh Hawley, Rand Paul, Roger Marshall and Jim Risch were among the dissenting votes. Sen. James Lankford, who negotiated the border provisions that failed to pass the Senate on Wednesday, also voted no. 

Seventeen Republicans, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, Minority Whip John Thune, Roger Wicker, John Kennedy, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney and Mike Rounds voted to advance the bill. 

The package includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, and nearly $5 billion for the Indo-Pacific. The Senate will proceed to hear debate on potential border amendments and reconvene for a final vote to potentially propel the package to full passage. 

Senate aides told Fox News Digital the process could take several days, as Republicans continue to negotiate which amendments will be up for consideration. The final decision about which amendments make it to the floor will be left up to Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. 

‘Now that we are on the bill, we hope to reach an agreement with our Republican colleagues on amendments,’ Schumer said after the vote. ‘For the information of senators. We are going to keep working on this bill until the job is done.’

Graham, a strong supporter of continued aid to Ukraine, told reporters before the vote: ‘I’m not going to vote for cloture until I know how this movie ends.’

‘I want to know what the Democratic leadership will agree to,’ he said. ‘Our border is a bigger national security threat to us in the short term than Ukraine. We have not even begun to do what we could do to secure the border.’

Democrats brought the package up for a vote after Republicans had blocked the $118 billion package that also included a slew of border and immigration provisions on Wednesday. Republicans had previously said they would not approve funding for Ukraine unless the overwhelmed southern border was secured first.

The border-foreign aid package was unveiled on Sunday night and hit a buzzsaw of conservative opposition from Republicans who said the package would normalize historic levels of illegal immigration and continue catch-and-release. Conservatives joined with some liberal Democrats in shutting down the bill, so Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer prepared a vote without the border package as a backup plan.

Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell had backed funding for Ukraine, but drew criticism from party members who urged lawmakers not to pass foreign aid without securing the border first. 

‘Support for our allies is more tenuous and the security of US personnel and interests is more questionable than it was three years ago. These are the circumstances in which the Senate must consider some weighty responsibilities of our own to invest in the hard power that the President instinctively consistently shies away from exercising, to commit to allies and fear of being abandoned,’ McConnell said Wednesday. 

The White House requested the supplemental funding package in October, but it was held up by Republicans who wanted more measures to fix the record-setting border crisis, including greater limits on asylum and limits on releases into the interior. Negotiators worked for months and on Sunday  finally released their text.

In addition to the foreign aid package, the failed border package included an ’emergency border authority’ to mandate Title 42-style expulsions of migrants when migration levels exceed 5,000 a day over a seven-day rolling average.

The bill would have narrowed asylum eligibility while expediting the process from years to months, provided immediate work permits for asylum seekers and funded a massive increase in staffing at the border and more immigration judges. The package also included greater detention, increased numbers of green cards, extra funding for NGOs and cities receiving migrants, $650 million for border wall funding and $450 million for countries to take back and re-settle illegal immigrants.

While the administration and negotiators described it as the toughest border package in years which would curb arrivals, limit asylum and lead to more expulsions, for conservatives it was seen as normalizing a crisis.

Some Democrats also objected to the bill, saying it was too harsh and did not include amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. — something immigration doves have wanted for years.

There has also been growing opposition to additional funding for Ukraine among Republicans, particularly in the House.

On Tuesday, Republicans in the lower chamber instead attempted to pass a standalone bill providing aid only to Israel. It failed after 14 Republicans and 166 Democrats voted against it.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates. 

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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