US Senate unveils $118 billion bipartisan bill to tighten border security, aid Ukraine and Israel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate on Sunday unveiled a $118 billion bipartisan border security bill that would also provide aid to Ukraine and Israel following months of negotiations, but the measure faces an uncertain future amid opposition by Donald Trump and hardline Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would take steps to hold an initial vote on the bill on Wednesday but faces opposition from both sides of the aisle.

Independent U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema told reporters the legislation would secure the U.S. southern border, including by requiring the Department of Homeland Security to close the border if there are an average of more than 5,000 crossing attempts per day over seven days.

In addition to $20.23 billion for border security, the bill included $60.06 billion to support Ukraine in its war with Russia, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $2.44 billion to U.S. Central Command and the conflict in the Red Sea, and $4.83 billion to support U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific facing aggression from China, according to figures from U.S. Senator Patty Murray.

An additional $10 billion would provide humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.

The U.S. would provide $4.83 billion to support key regional partners in the Indo-Pacific where tensions have risen between Taiwan and China, as well as $2.33 billion for Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s invasion and other refugees fleeing persecution.

“The priorities in this bill are too important to ignore and too vital to allow politics to get in the way,” Schumer said in a statement. “The United States and our allies are facing multiple, complex and, in places, coordinated challenges from adversaries who seek to disrupt democracy and expand authoritarian influence around the globe.”

Schumer said the agreement see more frontline personnel and asylum officers hired and new processes instituted to provide “faster and fair” immigration decisions.

Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, has been supportive of the negotiations, saying Republicans would not get a better deal under a Republican White House.

But other congressional Republicans have said President Joe Biden can enact many of the changes they want to immigration policy through executive action, though they had previously called for legislative action.

Biden had asked Congress in October to pass a measure providing additional funds for aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as Ukraine tries to repel Russian forces and following Oct. 7 raids by Hamas in Israel and a subsequent war.

That request was stalled by House Republicans’ insistence that it be tied to a shift in immigration policy.

Immigration is the second largest concern for Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Wednesday and is a top issue for Republicans specifically. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested about 2 million migrants at the border in fiscal year 2023.

Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in the November election, has campaigned heavily on opposition to immigration. House Republicans are also pushing ahead with an effort to impeach Biden’s top border official, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

(Reporting by Makini Brice, Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan; additional reporting by Costas Pitas and Simon Lewis; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien and Lisa Shumaker)

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