McConnell urges tighter border security in Biden’s budget request along with support for Israel, Ukraine

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Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that Republicans will push for a ‘number of changes’ regarding border security in President Biden’s requested emergency supplemental funding package.

McConnell said Israel and Ukraine aid should not be split up, but combined in a ‘comprehensive’ package since both are a ‘worldwide issue’ that correlate with other countries that pose a threat to the U.S., like China and Russia. 

‘It’s pretty clear that the supplemental that was set up is just a starting place,’ McConnell told reporters following the leadership conference’s weekly luncheon. ‘We’re going to go over it with a fine tooth comb, as you can see is a lot of passion among our members without having a credible border security provision in there, and we’re going to make other changes as well.’

McConnell said Sen. Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., has been meeting with a group of lawmakers to come up with a more ‘credible border proposal.’

‘I can tell you what, it probably will not be sending a bunch of money to Chicago and New York,’ McConnell said. ‘We want to do something about the problem, the problems at the border.’

When it comes to coupling Israel and Ukraine — which has received pushback among GOP lawmakers more skeptical of Ukraine aid but supportive of Israel — McConnell said White House officials ‘feel that this is a worldwide problem and needs to be dealt with entirely, not in pieces.’

‘Our members now that we have the package are scrubbing it for recommended changes… except for the fact that it’s worldwide, I think it’ll end up having a number of Republican changes,’ he added.

The Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent Congress an emergency supplemental funding package request — totaling $106 billion — to aid Ukraine and Israel and to increase security at the southern border on Friday morning.

The funding proposal includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel (with $10.6 billion allocated for military aid), $13.6 billion for border provisions (including measures to combat the flow of fentanyl and speed up asylum processing) 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.

But the border provisions quickly drew criticism from Republican lawmakers, who argued the funds would not stop the flow of migrants entering the country, but rather make the problem worse if there are no policy changes, like restoring Title 42.

‘The border funding that is included is all designed to accelerate the processing of illegal immigration,’ Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News in an interview Friday. ‘In other words, it’s not designed to stop the crisis at our southern border. It’s designed to make it worse.’

Meanwhile, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning he would be urging ‘strong bipartisan support’ to get the supplemental package across the finish line in the next few weeks. 

‘Bipartisanship must lead the way as we take up the president’s supplemental request,’ Schumer said. ‘To my Republican colleagues, let’s work together to ensure that this process remains bipartisan, because only things that win support from both sides will make it to the president’s desk.’

On Tuesday afternoon, Schumer said of Republicans’ qualms on tighter border security in the package: ‘We are not for policy changes.’

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