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Senate Republicans and Bernie Sanders block vote on Ukraine and Israel aid

Senate Republicans and Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blocked a vote on a supplemental bill that would have provided aid to Ukraine and Israel as Republicans seek to tie border restrictions to aid for Ukraine.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had put the supplemental legislation – which included $110.5bn in aid to Ukraine and Israel as well as humanitarian assistance for Gaza – to a floor vote in an attempt to pressure Republicans.

“To show our Republican colleagues that we care about this issue deeply and are serious about moving forward in a bipartisan way, we are willing to give them an amendment here on the floor on any border proposal of their choice, at 60 votes,” Mr Schumer said in a speech before the vote.

But many Senate Republicans have balked at supporting Ukraine and seek concessions from Democrats, specifically in restricting asylum and parole, wherein someone is given temporary admission to the United States when they otherwise would not receive for humanitarian reasons.

A group of four senators – including Sens Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) – have negotiated in recent weeks to come up with a compromise legislation.

But Republicans say restrictions on immigration are a red line. On Tuesday, many Republican senators angrily confronted Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen CQ Brown, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken about migration to the US-Mexico border.

House Republicans have demanded that immigration legislation go even further, demanding that their bill, known as the Secure the Border Act, be included with Ukraine aid.

“Make no mistake, the Senate vote failed today because Senate Democrats and the White House continue to refuse to acknowledge this simple truth,” Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement after the vote. “Now that Senator Schumer has demonstrated there is not enough support for his partisan approach, House Republicans reiterate what we have said all along: any supplemental national security legislation must secure our own border. The American people deserve nothing less”

But Mr Sanders, who has increasingly come under fire for not supporting a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza since the October 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,200 people, voted against the supplemental on the grounds that he opposed giving more money to Israel as civilian casualties rise.

“Israel has the absolute right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists who attacked them on October 7,” he said in a statmement. “They do not have the legal or moral right to kill thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children.”