Negotiators have finalized a portion of the bipartisan border deal and sent it to the Senate Appropriations Committee to see how the new policies would be funded. But the anticipated cost surpasses the allocated $14 billion from President Biden’s national security supplemental request for the border, lawmakers said.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, told reporters the price tag “will definitely be more” than $14 billion as the committee received a portion of the agreement dealing with asylum on Monday afternoon. She didn’t say how much more it would cost, but Senate Republican Whip John Thune, R-S.D., added that the cost is currently being discussed.
Outstanding issues still remain in the border negotiations between lawmakers and Biden administration officials that would unlock billions in aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — and lead Republicans said they are not expecting a vote on it this week. It’s unclear when an agreement will be finalized, but it will likely face an uphill battle when it does get a vote in the upper chamber and makes it to the GOP-controlled House.
“You can’t create funding and new programming and then not fund it,” lead Democrat negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told reporters Monday. “So if you’re committed to policy change, you have to be equally as committed to funding the policy change.”
SEN. MARSHALL URGES GOP TO SAY ‘HELL NO’ TO SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING REQUEST WITHOUT TIGHTER BORDER SECURITY
Asylum seekers line up in front of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families, in New York City, on Sept. 27, 2023. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
“We also can’t have appropriators try to change the deal,” he added. “We’ve worked very hard to get where we are, and we have to sell our caucuses on a deal, but we can’t relitigate it in the Appropriations Committee.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the lead Republican negotiator, said Monday it would be “quite a push” to get the legislation to the floor this week as lawmakers had previously hoped, acknowledging that Republicans need to “have several days to be able to go through it.”
Schumer and McConnell (Getty Images)
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, posted on X that GOP senators need to “have and review” the legislation for “at least 3 weeks” and be guaranteed the chance to offer amendments, which could push the policy from seeing the light of day even further. Senators are also scheduled to go on recess on Feb. 9, heightening the pressure for a deal to make it into lawmakers’ hands before then.
And on Wednesday, lawmakers have a private Senate GOP conference meeting to discuss additional aid to Ukraine as the White House has already depleted the amount of funds it can send without congressional approval. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. have remained in lockstep when it comes to pairing Ukraine aid and border security together, despite several dissenting voices in the GOP arguing they should be voted on separately.
WHITE HOUSE FUNDING REQUEST INCLUDES $14 BILLION FOR BORDER AS CRISIS HITS NEW RECORDS
President Biden and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visit St. Michael’s cathedral, amid Russia’s attack in Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2023. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
“Colleagues continue their work to finalize the most substantial border security policy in 30 years,” McConnell said on the floor. “This agreement would come not a moment too soon.”
He added: “America’s allies look to us to lead by example, to deliver decisive capabilities to Ukraine and to step up investments in upgrading our arsenal, expanding our capacity to stock it.”
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., another one of the key negotiators, told reporters she doesn’t have a timeline, but the talks continue to make progress.
A critical sticking point for the bipartisan group of negotiators has been the issue of parole, an integral border policy that allows illegal immigrants to live in the U.S. temporarily and obtain their green cards. It was expanded under the Biden administration to permit 30,000 nationals from four nations to fly in and receive parole into the U.S. monthly, forming part of the administration’s strategy to address the continuous crisis at the southern border.
Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers on the outside of the closed-door talks are growing restless without seeing the border deal in writing. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a voice critical of sending more aid to Ukraine, told reporters Monday that “we’ve had everybody tell us this is the best deal in the world, and nobody has seen a scrap of paper.”
Both Hawley and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. – another hawkish eye opposed to more foreign aid without heightened oversight – said there’s some talk that the bill text allows up to 5,000 border crossings a day before penalties begin.
WATCH: MIGRANTS CLAIM ASYLUM ON COLD JANUARY NIGHT AS CBP UNION LEADER TALKS BORDER CRISIS
Sen. Josh Hawley speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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“I’m not going to vote for 50,000 green cards a year,” Hawley said. “I am not going to vote for 5,000 border crossings a day before you could shut the border down. I mean, absolutely not.”
Paul said, “5,000 a day would be 1.8 million people.”
“I’m not for just having 1.8 million people come across the border,” Paul said. “I think there are national security problems with that. The other thing is, is they’re talking about a bill in exchange for sending another $60 billion to Ukraine, which I’m not for.”
The White House’s supplemental request, which was sent to Congress in October, includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel (with $10.6 billion allocated for military aid), $13.6 billion for some border security provisions, and significant investments in Indo-Pacific security assistance, totaling around $7.4 billion. Additionally, there’s $9 billion earmarked for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.