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WASHINGTON: U.S. Senate lawmakers indicated on Wednesday they could approve aid for Ukraine and Israel, even as border-security provisions in the package appeared headed for certain defeat.

In the face of broad Republican opposition, the Senate was expected to reject a $118 billion bipartisan package that would tighten border security, help Ukraine fight a Russian invasion and bolster Israel in its war with Hamas.

But several prominent Republican senators said they would back another bill that includes the foreign aid but strips out the border provisions. The Senate was expected to vote on the two options on Wednesday afternoon.

Democrats hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, but need Republican support because the chamber’s rules require 60 votes to advance most legislation.

US Senate unveils $118bn bill on border security, aid for Ukraine, Israel

If passed, the border package would represent the biggest shift in U.S. immigration policy in decades and tighten rules for migrants asking for asylum.

For months, Republicans have insisted that any bill providing funding for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies must also include measures to cope with the high numbers of migrants arriving along the U.S.-Mexico border.

But they quickly rejected a deal released on Sunday after months of bipartisan negotiations. Former President Donald Trump has pressed them to reject any compromise as he campaigns to defeat Democratic President Joe Biden in the November election.

Wednesday’s developments raised the possibility that Congress could yet provide much-needed aid to U.S. allies while failing yet again to tackle immigration, one of the most divisive domestic issues.

An aide to Republican Senator Roger Wicker predicted that a foreign-aid package would get well over 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber – a rare show of cross-party support.

Even if it passes, that aid faces uncertain prospects in the House of Representatives, as Republicans who control that chamber have balked at further support for Ukraine.

Asked about the potential Senate vote on stand-alone security bill, House Speaker Mike Johnson was noncommittal.

“We’ll see what the Senate does. We’re allowing the process to play out,” Johnson told reporters. “You have to address these issues on their own merits.”

Johnson had said the border package would be “dead on arrival” in his chamber. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has long advocated the deal, has said it does not have enough votes to pass.

Concerns over immigration have become a top issue in this year’s election campaign, and Biden has blamed Trump for the deal’s collapse.

Johnson, meanwhile, said on Wednesday he will hold another vote to impeach Biden’s top border official, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, after a first attempt failed in a 214-216 vote on Tuesday.

“It was a mess what happened here, but we’re cleaning it up,” he told reporters on Wednesday.


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