Lead GOP negotiator: No border package vote this week, 'very hopeful' on deal text


Sen. James Lankford, the lead GOP negotiator on a border-foreign aid package, said there won’t be a vote on the bipartisan proposal this week as senators work to iron out final sticking points.

Instead, Lankford (R-Okla.) said he’s “very hopeful” that he, Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) can release the text of the deal they have been negotiating sometime this week.

“It could be later on this week if all the things continue to come together,” Lankford said. But, he added, there “certainly” wouldn’t be a vote this week.

Murphy added that negotiators are working “as fast as we can. … [But] there’s still some issues left to solve.”

“There is no reason for us to wait weeks to get this bill on the floor. And so I am hopeful that our Republican colleagues will work with us to wrap up the supplemental — both the policy changes and the funding necessary to effectuate the policy changes — in the next few days so that we can answer the call for Ukraine,” Murphy said.

Senate Republicans spent most of their closed-door lunch discussing the negotiations, with some airing frustrations about the length of the talks and concerns that leadership could force a quick vote. Some conservatives are also pitching breaking up the components of the border-foreign aid deal into individual pieces that would each get their own vote.

“Several points of view came out … at decibel levels a little higher than normal,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

Braun summed up the frustration during the lunch meeting: “It’s taken so long, and now there’s talk about maybe getting something to the floor and voting on it in a day or two. I think that would cause a real uproar.”

Lankford, asked about some of the feedback from his colleagues, added that “everybody wants to read it. … Everybody wants to be able to go through it..”

“They’re all frustrated they’re not in the room,” he said.

Senators had hoped to be ready to vote on a deal as soon as this week — but there were already signs that it was looking increasingly unlikely.

“There are a few items still outstanding. So … we’re not on a glide path to get this done this week,” Senate GOP Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters earlier Tuesday.

But negotiators and leadership signaled Tuesday that they still believe they are close to a deal. Even if they can get something through the Senate, it could still face a heavy lift in the House, where a growing number of conservatives are wary of additional Ukraine aid.

“We will give members time to read the text before we vote, that’s for sure. And as for amendments and how to deal with the floor, Leader [Mitch] McConnell and I will have to work that out once we’ve come to an agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.



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