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Senate Republicans officially block foreign aid bill with border changes

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Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a package that included aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and provisions to beef up border security, a long-coming conclusion to tortuous bipartisan negotiations.

The bill failed to advance 49-50, falling short of the 60-vote threshold. The defeat officially ends the unsuccessful talks to shore up border protections that went on for four months.

Republicans had initially demanded border policy changes in exchange for Ukraine aid, but abandoned that trade-off this week quickly after the border deal was announced, deeming it inadequate. House Republican leadership also said the bill was dead on arrival in that chamber, turning more GOP senators against it.

Four Republicans voted to advance the bill, including lead Republican border negotiator Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) as well as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The measure also lost five Democrats, including Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Some on the left had voiced concerns over the border policy immigration provisions included in the bill, and Sanders is against unconditional aid to Israel, which the package also included.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer harshly criticized Senate Republicans over their border about-face before the vote on Wednesday, attributing the switch to opposition from former President Donald Trump. He changed his own vote to no as the bill’s failure became clear, a necessary move to preserve his right to call up the vote again at a later date.

“Why have Republicans backed off on border when they know it’s the right thing to do?” Schumer said on the floor Wednesday morning. “Two words: Donald Trump.”

Senate Democratic leadership is now planning a vote later Wednesday to advance a bill only including Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan funding — with no border policy provisions or funding included.

It’s not yet clear whether there will be the necessary support to advance that foreign-assistance-only bill, either. Some Senate Republicans Wednesday morning wanted clarifications on whether amendments will be allowed and on what terms.

The Senate is slated to leave town on Thursday, starting a two-week recess over the weekend.