Border agreement, international aid package may face delays

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By Carina

As mid-January arrives, there’s a noticeable absence of a legislative deal regarding border security, which also affects the international aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. 

This delay is not unexpected, as realistic expectations on Capitol Hill predicted the complexity and duration of these negotiations, which began in early December and continued through the holidays.

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Negotiators struggle with details, speed of progress

Senator James Lankford, R-Okla., the top GOP negotiator, expressed on ‘Fox News Sunday’ his initial hope for bill text readiness this week, a goal that was not achieved. 

“I think we just didn’t make progress as fast as I’d hoped we would,” Lankford said. 

Sources close to the talks highlight the intricate nature of these negotiations, consisting of “a thousand small things to work out” and the urgency to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. 

Concerns also arise about the potential impacts of government funding issues on border talks.

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Progress acknowledged, challenges ahead

Senator Roger Marshall, R-Kan., acknowledged the progress made by Lankford, referring to the border deal as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Senator Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., also commented on the substantial progress of the negotiations. 

However, the focus on the Hunter Biden issue shifted attention away from border talks. Despite the progress, the week concluded without a finalized bill text as negotiators grappled with issues like parole for illegal entry into the U.S. 

The absence of written bill text might be strategic, as it prevents premature scrutiny and opposition, but it also makes it difficult to gauge the progress of the talks. “It’s hard to evaluate because there’s no text,” Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., pointed out.

Secrecy in negotiations and skepticism among lawmakers

The secretive nature of the process has led to skepticism from some senators, like Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., who expressed concerns about potential concessions. 

With negotiators working intensively since December and discussions intensifying over the holidays, the lack of a concrete agreement reflects the intricate nature of border security and immigration issues.

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International aid tied to border security, legislative challenges persist

The aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan remains tied to the border security deal, a linkage insisted upon by Republicans. 

This connection highlights the urgency of the situation in Ukraine and the political risks for Republicans if the situation deteriorates. 

The legislative fix for border security remains elusive, compounded by a divided Congress and reluctance among lawmakers to address immigration.

Border security in political context and future outlook

With many House Republicans hesitant to engage with the Senate’s indistinct proposal and a historical emphasis on reasserting congressional power, there’s a shift towards expecting executive action from President Biden. 

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Despite the long-held Republican stance against executive overreach, there’s now a call for Biden to address the border crisis, exemplified by Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Tex., referencing President Trump’s use of executive orders for border security.

Navigating immigration, border security, and international aid

The complex and sensitive nature of immigration and border security issues, historically contentious topics, means that reaching an agreement will require additional time and debate. 

The situation in Ukraine adds urgency to the matter, and there’s a possibility that lawmakers might separate the international aid package from border security if the situation escalates. 

Such a decision, however, carries political risks and could face opposition from hardliners prioritizing border security.

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