Latest News 21-12-2023 00:12 10 Views

Schumer and McConnell vow to take ‘swift action’ on supplemental package early next year

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised to 'take swift action' on the national supplemental security bill early next year, which will unlock billions of dollars of aid to Ukraine, Taiwan, Israel and the southern border.

'Challenging issues remain, but we are committed to addressing needs at the southern border and to helping allies and partners confront serious threats in Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific,' the statement read. 'The Senate will not let these national security challenges go unanswered.' 

Lawmakers in the upper chamber have been negotiating with White House officials since last week on a border security policy that would be included in the supplemental package. 

Republicans first demanded stronger border security provisions in the package last month, but Democrats were unwavering in their quest to exclude any immigration policy changes from making headway in the bill until negotiations began heating up last week. 

The clock has now run out for any deal to be reached this year, even as Schumer canceled part of the Senate's holiday recess to continue negotiations this week. 

'As negotiators work through remaining issues, it is our hope that their efforts will allow the Senate to take swift action on the national security supplemental early in the new year,' the joint statement read.

The leaders said that negotiators — Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., Sen. Krysten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. — and Biden administration officials will 'continue to work in good faith' on a framework for border security legislation. Lawmakers have cited in the last few days that 'progress' was being made but would not reveal specifics. 

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection sources on Tuesday, there were more than 12,600 migrants encountered at the southern border in the preceding 24 hours, the highest figure recorded in a single day. 

Talks have been ongoing with senators and Biden administration officials as Republicans have refused to pass some $60 billion in additional aid to Ukraine unless it is tied to strict border security measures, such as immediate screenings for asylum processing, more detention beds and quicker expulsions for illegal entrants. 

The total amount of supplemental aid the White House first requested in October amounts to roughly $106 billion and includes $14 billion to assist Israel. President Biden has been urging Congress to take action on the package, and Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy made a final plea last week to both chambers in private meetings.

The White House has sent more than $100 billion to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022. Last week, Biden announced the administration would send $200 million in additional military aid to the Eastern European nation.

On the floor Tuesday night, Schumer announced Wednesday's Senate session at noon would be for 'housekeeping business' and that there would be no more votes until January. 

Senators proceeded to reauthorize temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration until March 8 and confirmed by a voice vote the remaining 11 military nominees, who were previously delayed by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville's monthslong blockade over the Pentagon's abortion policy.

Congress will return the week of Jan. 8 and will also have to pass some appropriations bills to keep some government agencies afloat by Jan. 19. 

Fox News' Bill Melugin contributed to this report. 

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