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Republicans hold firm for border deal over Ukraine aid

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, speaks to media during the weekly Senate Republican Leadership press conference, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, December 5, 2023.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, speaks to media during the weekly Senate Republican Leadership press conference, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, December 5, 2023.

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters

Republicans hold firm for border deal over Ukraine aid

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday canceled plans to make a remote, last-ditch appeal to senators for billions more in aid for Ukraine. His aborted plea comes as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), usually a strong pro-Ukrainian voice, told his caucus to hold out against the $106 billion foreign aid package and vote no to send Democrats the message that they need to meet GOP border demands. A procedural vote is scheduled for today.


Republicans want to ramp up security along the US-Mexico border and make changes to asylum policy. Negotiations broke down on Friday over questions of border security spending. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) complained that GOP negotiators just want Democrats to “swallow their most difficult proposals” without offering compromises.

Zelensky had hoped to drive home the urgency of aid for Ukraine, but the prospects didn’t look good even before he pulled the plug. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said there was nothing Zelensky could have said that would have made him come around on Ukraine aid sans a border deal.

For Ukrainian troops, US support could mean life or death this winter, and ultimately victory or defeat. US aid is very nearly tapped out, and Ukraine has no other ally that can provide anywhere close to the required amount and quality of equipment.

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