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'One of the most dangerous moments': Republican and Democratic senators race to resolve aid, border disputes

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., hit out at Republicans demanding aid for Ukraine and Israel be tied to border and immigration demands, saying the ongoing talks are “one of the most dangerous moments that I’ve ever faced in American politics.”

Senators are racing to reach a deal securing money for Ukraine and Israel while also making changes to immigration policy, a notoriously thorny issue. Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator of a bipartisan group of senators working to forge a deal, lamented the slow-moving talks in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I think it's absolutely tragic that Republicans are tying the resolution of maybe the most difficult issue in American politics, immigration, to support for Ukraine and Israel,” Murphy said. “I think this is one of the most dangerous moments that I've ever faced in American politics, and I wish Republicans weren't holding Israel aid and aid to Ukraine hostage to the resolution of immigration reform.”

Senate Republicans last week blocked legislation providing aid to Ukraine and Israel because the bill lacked any of their desired changes to border policy, further endangering Congress’ hope of passing a sweeping foreign aid package by the end of the year.

But Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the lead Republican negotiator in the border talks, contended the White House injected border policy changes into foreign aid legislation when President Joe Biden requested Congress approve an all-encompassing package that included funding for Ukraine, Israel and efforts to deter China, along with heightened border security changes.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaks to members of the press at the U.S. Capitol on December 4, 2023 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaks to members of the press at the U.S. Capitol on December 4, 2023 in Washington, DC.

“If I talk to just about anyone in the country outside of Washington D.C., they would say the border is chaotic right now,” Lankford said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “It is literally spiraling out of control.”

“All we’re trying to do is to say, what tools are needed to be able to get this back in control so we don’t have the chaos on our southern border,” he added.

Democratic and Republican negotiators are attempting to find consensus on what border policy changes could be amicable to both parties, but GOP demands are a sour note for Democrats in the talks. Murphy described Republicans’ demands as former President Donald Trump’s “immigration policies.”

“We are not going to put Donald Trump’s immigration policies into statute. We’re not going to do that,” Murphy said. “But we need to do something to try to resolve this crisis at the border.”

Much of the ongoing talks have been private, but one sticking point that is known is humanitarian parole, which allows migrants to temporarily stay in the U.S. for “urgent humanitarian reasons.”

In an attempt to revive the talks as time runs short, Biden said last week he is willing to make “significant compromises” on border policy if it means Congress can pass Ukraine aid. Murphy said he thinks "the White House is going to get more engaged this week" on the border negotiations.

Lankford in Sunday his interview acknowledged that any border deal will have to be an eventual middle ground between Democratic and Republican wants but added that “doesn’t mean we just sit and do nothing.”

“We’ve got to solve this crisis,” Lankford said.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., speaks to members of the press at the U.S. Capitol on December 4, 2023 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., speaks to members of the press at the U.S. Capitol on December 4, 2023 in Washington, DC.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Crisis': Senators race to reach Ukraine and Israel aid, border deal