Antelope Valley Press

Senate deal on border, Ukraine is in jeopardy


WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan Senate deal to pair border enforcemen­t measures and Ukraine aid faced potential collapse Thursday as Senate Republican­s grew increasing­ly wary of an election-year compromise that Donald Trump, the likely Republican presidenti­al nominee, seems likely to oppose.

Senate negotiator­s have been striving for weeks to finish a carefully negotiated compromise on border and immigratio­n policy that is meant to tamp down the number of migrants who come to the US border with Mexico. But now that negotiatio­ns have dragged for weeks, election-year politics and demands from Trump are weighing it down.

At stake is a plan that both President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have worked for months to broker in hopes of cajoling Congress to approve wartime aid for Ukraine. The US has run out of money to supply Ukraine, potentiall­y leaving the country stranded without robust supplies of ammunition and missiles to fend off Russia’s invasion.

In a closed-door Republican meeting on Wednesday, McConnell acknowledg­ed the reality of Trump’s opposition, that he is the party’s likely presidenti­al nominee and discussed other options, including potentiall­y separating Ukraine and the border, according to two people familiar who spoke anonymousl­y to discuss the private meeting. Punchbowl News first reported the remarks.

McConnell’s comments raised fresh doubts in the Senate about his level of commitment to the border deal, though advocates for moving forward countered that the leader’s remarks were being misinterpr­eted.

“We’re still working on it,” McConnell told reporters on Thursday morning.

He also reassured the conference at a Republican luncheon Thursday that he still personally supports pairing the border and Ukraine, said Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican.

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, the head GOP negotiator, said the group is still working on the package. He said that McConnell was advocating for the proposal while simply acknowledg­ing the political reality that the presidenti­al primary season is fully underway.

“I think that’s the shift that has occurred, that he’s just acknowledg­ing,” Lankford said. “That’s just a reality.”

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