Biden Pins Border Bill Failure on Trump, Leaving Ukraine Hanging

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(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden blamed Donald Trump for sinking a bipartisan immigration and Ukraine aid bill, saying the Republican frontrunner pressured members of his party to reject it in order to gain an advantage in the November election.

Biden acknowledged the Senate package was all but dead — a move which could jeopardize the US effort to provide more weapons and support to Ukraine in its war to repel Russia’s invasion. Biden warned that if Republicans do not approve the package he would use it to hammer Trump on the campaign trail.

“All indications are this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason. Donald Trump,” Biden said Tuesday from the White House.

Biden said that the failure to resolve the impasse on the southwest border has put Ukraine in “dire straits.” The US has yet to approve another aid package requested by Biden in October, leaving Kyiv lacking enough weapons and ammunition to drive Russian forces off its territory. 

“History is watching. Failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten,” Biden said, wearing a lapel pin with both the US and Ukrainian flags. “Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing this bill is playing into his hands.”

The president spoke as the deal — which combines a series of strict new procedures designed to limit illegal migration on the southern border with funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other US allies — appeared on the brink of defeat just days after its unveiling.

“It’s time for Republicans in the Congress to show a little courage, show a little spine,” Biden added. 

The $118 billion legislative package would expand deportation flights, hire additional immigration and border patrol officers, and create a faster process for deportation of those entering the country illegally without legitimate asylum claims. It would also fund new drug-screening equipment for deployment at the border.

But Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, and his allies in the House of Representatives have lambasted the agreement, arguing it doesn’t go far enough in restricting asylum claims and offers too much discretion to the president. Some have said they are reluctant to give Biden a political victory ahead of November’s election.

On Tuesday, Biden challenged Republicans to decide between a policy outcome they’ve long desired and their immediate political considerations.

“Republicans have to decide: Who do they serve? Donald Trump or the American people,” Biden said.

The Senate is set to hold a procedural vote on the measure this week, but 41 GOP lawmakers can block the bill. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he supports the agreement, nevertheless told lawmakers in his caucus they could vote against it if they wanted more time to review the package.

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Published: 07 Feb 2024, 12:26 AM IST

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