Senators unveil $118.28bn bipartisan immigration overhaul, Israel, Ukraine aid bill

by Celia

A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a proposal for a bill that links billions of dollars in new foreign aid to a significant overhaul of the United States’ immigration system, marking the first major reform in years.

Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) collaborated on the agreement, aiming to strengthen border security and immigration enforcement while providing increased assistance to key allies like Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine.


Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, disclosed the details of the $118.28 billion bipartisan national security supplemental package on Sunday evening.


Among the allocations, $60.06 billion is earmarked to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, while $14.1 billion is designated for security aid to Israel. Additionally, $10 billion will be directed towards humanitarian assistance for civilians in conflict zones such as Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine. Another $4.83 billion is designated to support Indo-Pacific regional partners and deter aggression from the Chinese government.


The bill also includes provisions for border policy reforms, with $20.3 billion allocated for existing operational border needs and the introduction of the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence Off Fentanyl Act.


Despite the months of negotiations that led to the agreement, some lawmakers remain skeptical, particularly hard-liners pushing for stricter regulations at the southern border. House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed reservations, stating, “The devil is in the details.”

Republican skepticism presents a significant obstacle to the bill’s passage in both chambers of Congress. Sources familiar with the negotiations revealed that the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to almost shut down the border if migrant crossings surpass 5,000 per day or if average daily encounters reach 4,000 in a one-week period.

Senator Lankford, a key negotiator for the Republican Party, refuted claims about the bill’s contents, emphasizing its focus on achieving zero illegal crossings per day and denying any provisions for amnesty.

The Senate is anticipated to commence the legislative process later in the week, with supporters needing 60 senators to back the bill during a procedural vote on Wednesday. President Joe Biden welcomed news of the bipartisan agreement, emphasizing the urgent need to address the longstanding issues in the immigration system.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas echoed Biden’s sentiments, endorsing the bipartisan Senate bill as a significant step towards addressing the country’s immigration challenges. He highlighted the bill’s provisions for expedited removal of individuals without legal basis, enhanced protection for legitimate claims, and increased resources for border security and workforce expansion.

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