A major US national security bill faces spectacular collapse. What happens next?


A sweeping legislative effort is likely to explode spectacularly in a vote Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. Senate.

Fragments of unfinished business would be scattered across the political landscape: migration reform, weapons for an increasingly desperate Ukraine, and security aid for Taiwan and Israel.

It’s all part of a sweeping national security bill that Republicans have spent months negotiating, a bill with many Republican priorities, supported by the Republican-backing Border Patrol union and by editorial writers Republicans at the Wall Street Journal, and he could soon be killed – by the Republicans.

“Why? A simple reason: Donald Trump,” US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday. “Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically.”

Trump and his allies have pushed Republican lawmakers to block the legislation, arguing it helps Biden in this election year. U.S. lawmakers are already looking beyond the bill’s near-certain failure to find ways to pick up the broken pieces.

Here’s how we got here.

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Anatomy of a 4 month saga

Last fall, Ukraine began running out of U.S.-supplied weapons. The Biden administration has urged Congress to renew funding for a program with two goals: sending old U.S. weapons to Ukraine and buying new ones for the United States.

Republicans have become increasingly skeptical. Many have asked the question: why spend billions more to protect Ukraine’s border, and not the United States?

So, Biden suggested a compromise: put everything in one bill.

In a prime time address After the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the president proposed a sweeping national security law that would tighten U.S. borders while providing military assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Negotiators spent four months working on it. They met at night, on weekends and over the Christmas holidays, said a furious chief Democratic negotiator, Sen. Chris Murphy.

Ukrainian servicemen fire an L119 howitzer at Russian troops near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, December 21, 2023.
Ukrainian servicemen fire a howitzer at Russian troops near the front-line town of Bakhmut in December. Ukrainian troops are dangerously short of artillery after US funding for an arms exchange program ran out. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

He said angrily Tuesday that even in Washington, where it is easy to lose the capacity for outrage, “what has happened here in the last four months is outrageous.”

Murphy cited a colleague who called it his most disheartening week as a lawmaker.

The lead Republican negotiator, James Lankford, acknowledged that he felt like his colleagues had thrown him under the bus: “And backed away.”

In reality, the bill strengthens border control in many ways, but not as much as Republicans wanted.

He restricted which migrants can be released into the United States It makes it harder to apply for asylum, speeds up the asylum process so applicants don’t linger in the country, adds resources for detention and deportation, and speeds up expulsions.

There is a border closure provision: If the United States takes in more than 5,000 migrants per day, the president is obligated to completely halt processing of migrants.

For U.S. allies, there is $60 billion for weapons for Ukraine and billions more for Israel for missile defense.

What did progressive Democrats get? Not much in terms of migration priorities. There is no reference to the legal status of undocumented people already in the United States. The bill comes closest to the traditional Liberal requirement of a provision for 50,000 new legal immigration places per year over five years.

Dozens of people are seen in a long queue in an outdoor setting.
Migrants wait to be processed after crossing the border into the United States from Mexico in October 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. A historic migration surge has led to political pressure to tighten the U.S. southern border. A new bill would make it harder for migrants to seek asylum and make it easier to quickly deport them. The Republicans seem ready to block it. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

Trump lobbies against bill: “Don’t be STUPID!!! »

That didn’t stop Trump from lobbying against the bill.

“This bill is a great gift to Democrats and a death wish to the Republican Party,” Trump said on social media.

“Do not be stupid !!!”

On Fox News, morning anchor Steve Doocy said some Republicans would oppose the bill simply because Trump was doing it; because they want the chaos at the border to be an election issue.

“Republicans want this to continue into November so they can say, ‘Joe Biden broke it,'” Doocy said.

But the loudest and most powerful voices at Fox News, prime-time hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, those closest to Trump, vigorously machine-gunned the bill.

“A total disaster,” Hannity said this week. “All Republicans should strongly oppose this.”

A close-up of a clean-shaven elderly person standing in front of a wall is shown.
Donald Trump is strongly pushing Republicans to block the national security bill. In a social media post, he told them: “Don’t be STUPID!!! » (Ronda Churchill/Reuters)

What Republicans don’t like

There are several things that Republicans don’t like. It is not as restrictive as a separate border billthat Republicans passed months ago in the House, but which has no chance of passing the Senate.

For starters, this bill does not mandate the completion of Trump’s Mexican border wall. Additionally, in the border closure provision mentioned above, there is a loophole allowing the president to suspend the measure for up to 45 days if he deems it in the national interest.

The bill also provides up to $1.4 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be used by NGOs that help undocumented migrants.

Although it tightens the terms for temporarily releasing migrants into the United States, it does not set a maximum ceiling for the use of so-called parole.

In any case, everything seems doomed to failure.

Republican leadership in the face of rebellion

The bill was still unlikely to pass the Republican-led House. But some supporters hoped the bill would pass the Senate and then through negotiation or some other means. parliamentary procedural maneuversomeone could force a vote in the House.

But Republican leaders in the Senate have all but conceded defeat. In fact, they are now suggesting we vote against it because there is no point.

And they’re facing a rebellion just for trying to pass it: a handful of Republican senators, including Ted Cruz, held a press conference to trash their own leadership.

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Cruz suggested it was time for Mitch McConnell to resign as GOP leader, blaming him for pushing the party into an embarrassing situation.

The Senate must vote on whether to advance the bill to the debate stage. The vote is expected Wednesday afternoon and requires 60 percent of the vote to pass, but there is no indication that Republicans will get the necessary votes.

Top Republicans appear to have declared the bill dead, with McConnell saying the policy had changed and there was no real chance of it becoming law.

But then he and several Republicans suggested a next step: holding a separate vote on the foreign aid portion, on Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Photo of a man with glasses
House Speaker Mike Johnson is a key player. Without his support, it is almost impossible to pass a bill in the House of Representatives. And if he allows certain votes, he risks a rebellion from the pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Next step: split the bill?

“We still have to, in my opinion, tackle the rest. Because it’s important. Not that the border isn’t important, but we can’t get it done,” McConnell said.

When asked if he would be willing to do so, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded cryptically that he would have more to say if and when the planned vote failed. “Stay tuned.”

Even then, there is no guarantee that a Ukraine-Taiwan-Israel bill will pass the House of Representatives, as it would still require one of two uncertain developments.

The Republican president should allow a vote and face a backlash that would endanger his career; or backbenchers should deploy a tactic rarely effective launched a request for release.

At the same time, Schumer called the US Congress a dark moment, as Republicans abandoned their principles to help Trump “and his friend…Vladimir Putin”.

Worrying global effects

A former CIA analyst who now serves in Congress said she was returning from a troubling Pentagon briefing on some of the potential global effects.

Elissa Slotkin described Ukraine being hit without adequate defense; its damaged energy and grain export infrastructure; consequently, an increase in global food prices; a wave of refugees fleeing the advance of Russian troops; and a historic humiliation for the United States

“Historians may remember this as the moment America gave up on defending democracy,” the Michigan Democrat said. job on X, formerly Twitter.

“When our political polarization became so severe that we abandoned the principles our grandparents fought for.”

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