Senate GOP blocks bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package in key vote

By Elise Hammond, Michelle Shen, Jack Forrest and Shania Shelton, CNN

Updated 0640 GMT (1440 HKT) February 8, 2024
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5:42 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

Republicans fear party dysfunction in Congress could mean trouble in November

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Republican lawmakers are warning that dysfunction in their chamber is not only wasting time but could also lead to setbacks in the general election in November as the party is crippled by infighting over their leadership and the best path forward for aid to Ukraine, Israel and the border. 

“I just don’t think the last three months could have been handled any worse,” GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, a long-time critic of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Why would voters look at what goes on over here — the circus — and say, ‘Yeah. We want more of this?'”

After Senate Republicans rejected a carefully negotiated border deal from their colleague Sen. James Lankford, the party finds itself back in the same position it was months ago. Many want to send money to Ukraine but disputes are erupting about the best strategy to get there.

Allies of McConnell’s say it’s not the leader who is causing the problem. Instead, they argue the issue is the compounding missteps in the House. 

“We are going to win West Virginia, we are going to win Ohio. We are going to win Montana. We have great candidates in all of them. I think Nevada and Arizona are at play. I am confident we are going to win back the Senate. The House… man they’ve gotta get some stuff working for them,” Sen. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican from Oklahoma, told CNN on Wednesday.

4:53 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

Intense talks happening in Senate over whether to move ahead with aid package without border provisions

From CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett

Senators in both parties are engaged in an urgent round of talks to see if they can reach an agreement that would allow the Senate to open up debate on a $95.3 billion foreign aid package — a bill that would not include the bipartisan border deal that Republicans killed today.

GOP senators are demanding an agreement that would allow the Senate to vote on their amendments to the package. To reach a time agreement, all 100 senators have to sign off on it. So this process would take time to play out, sometimes many hours.

Right now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has left open the vote on the floor to begin the process of taking up the bill. This vote has been open for nearly two hours.

What happens next: Once this vote is closed, then the Senate must vote to overcome a filibuster and formally open up debate. That is the first key vote — and it would require 60 votes to get onto the bill. 

So far, there are not enough Republicans who say they'll vote to advance the bill until an agreement over their amendments is reached.

3:48 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

Republican senator who voted to advance border bill says its failure knocks GOP credibility to negotiate 

From CNN’s Manu Raju

Sen. Lisa Murkowski after the senate luncheons in the US Capitol on Tuesday, February 6.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski after the senate luncheons in the US Capitol on Tuesday, February 6. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to advance the foreign aid package with the border bill, said it was unclear who could trust the GOP to negotiate after they scuttled the bipartisan bill on Wednesday.

“I have a difficult time understanding again how anyone else in the future is going to want to be on that negotiating team — on anything — if we are going to be against it,” the senator from Alaska told CNN.

She added: “I’ve gone through the multiple stages of grief. Today I’m just pissed off.”

3:42 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

Here's what was in the bipartisan border deal that failed to advance in the Senate

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Lauren Fox

The Senate’s border deal and foreign aid package aimed to implement strict limits along the US southern border that have not been previously enshrined into law and would, in effect, severely curtail asylum-seeking at that border — a break from decades-long protocol. It also included assistance for Israel and Ukraine.

Senate Republicans blocked the legislation Wednesday during a procedural vote following opposition from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

If it had passed in Congress, the bill would have dramatically change immigration law for the first time in decades. 

Here's a look at the key changes that were in the bill:

  • A new emergency authority to restrict border crossings if daily average migrant encounters reach 4,000 over a one-week span. If that metric is reached, the Homeland Security secretary could decide to largely bar migrants from seeking asylum if they crossed the border unlawfully. If migrant crossings increase above 5,000 on average per day in a given week, DHS is required to use the authority. If encounters reach 8,500 in one day, the department is required to trigger the authority. But the federal government is limited in how long it can use the authority.
  • Codifies a policy that requires the government to process at least 1,400 asylum applications at ports of entry when the emergency authority is triggered.
  • Raises the legal standard of proof to pass the initial screening for asylum, making it potentially more difficult for asylum seekers to pass.
  • Expedites the asylum processing timeline from years to six months.
  • Introduces a new process in which US Citizenship and Immigration Services would decide an asylum claim without it going through the immigration court system. The process doesn’t apply to unaccompanied migrant children.

Read more highlights from the deal here.

3:41 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

Biden slams Republicans after border deal blocked in Senate

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 6, in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 6, in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Joe Biden took harsh aim at congressional Republicans during a fundraiser in New York on Wednesday after the Senate GOP blocked a bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package from advancing.

Biden said he'd “never thought I'd see something like we are seeing now” on Capitol Hill, and blamed his opponent former President Donald Trump for calling and “threatening” lawmakers with “retribution” if they supported the package, which also included more American funding for Ukraine and Israel.

Republicans, Biden claimed, are “walking away because they’ve got Donald Trump calling and threatening them.”

The remarks, delivered behind closed doors to donors on Manhattan's Upper West Side, were a preview of how Biden plans to use the failed border vote to his political advantage in the months ahead.

3:52 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

NOW: Senate holding procedural vote to begin process of debating foreign aid package without border policy 

From CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett

The Senate is now casting a procedural vote to begin the process of debating a foreign aid package without the border security provisions. It would give money to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

This vote only requires a simple majority to succeed. But this would eventually require another vote to overcome a 60-vote threshold in order to break a filibuster.

While the Senate may get a simple majority in this first vote, it is unclear whether the chamber will get 60 votes eventually, because Republicans are demanding an agreement to have their amendments considered to the underlying bill.

This vote comes after Senate Republicans blocked a major bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package earlier on the floor.

6:12 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

JUST IN: Bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package fails to advance in the Senate

From CNN’s Clare Foran, Sam Fossum, Ted Barrett and Morgan Rimmer

A procedural vote to advance the bipartisan border security deal and foreign aid package with assistance for Ukraine and Israel has failed.

The vote was 49 to 50. At least 60 votes were needed for it to move forward.

Senate Republicans were expected to block it amid opposition from former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans.

Here are some of the notable votes:

  • GOP “yes” votes from Sens. James Lankford, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney
  • Democratic “no” votes from Sens. Bob Menendez, Alex Padilla, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey
  • Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders voted “no"
  • Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell also voted “no"
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voted "no" — which allows him to make a procedural maneuver in the future to bring it back up.

What could come next: Schumer plans to force a procedural vote on a separate emergency aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan without the border provisions. This vote could happen later on Wednesday.

3:07 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

McConnell votes to block Senate immigration bill in solidarity with majority of his GOP conference

From CNN’s Sam Fossum, Clare Foran and Ted Barrett

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell voted to block the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, standing in solidarity with the majority of his conference to scuttle the effort. 

The vote is still ongoing, but Senate Republicans are expected to block it from reaching the 60-vote threshold to move forward.

2:51 p.m. ET, February 7, 2024

NOW: Senate voting on whether to advance border deal and foreign aid package

From CNN’s Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Morgan Raju

The Senate floor on Wednesday.
The Senate floor on Wednesday. Senate TV

The Senate is holding a procedural vote now on whether to advance the bipartisan border security deal and foreign aid package with aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Senate Republicans are expected to block it amid opposition from former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans, including Speaker Mike Johnson. 

If Republicans block the larger package as expected, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to bring up a procedural vote on an emergency aid package for Israel and Ukraine that drops the border deal.