No border deal yet, Murphy says, as senators prepare to return in a week

No border deal yet, Murphy says, as senators prepare to return in a week

Resumed discussions to reach a bipartisan border deal and unlock Ukraine aid still have not yielded a deal, according to lead Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy.

The Connecticut senator said the core negotiating group took a couple days off over the Christmas break but has otherwise continued meeting virtually, with the latest call occurring Friday morning. He said negotiators are “at the point where we’re working through text.”

Congressional Republicans have said they won’t approve additional cash to Ukraine without substantial border security changes, and GOP senators earlier this month blocked President Joe Biden’s $106 billion national security supplemental spending package that includes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the southern border. Murphy has been one of three senators leading the border policy negotiations, joined by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).

Murphy declined to say what the remaining sticking points are in negotiations, but said the group is aiming to have a deal to shop among their fellow senators when members return on Jan. 8. Still, Murphy said there’s no guarantee any eventual proposal will pass — especially with two government funding deadlines rapidly approaching in the new year.

“The nature of this of this agreement is going to be so complicated that we’re not going to know whether we have the votes until we bring it back to our caucuses,” Murphy said.

Adding to the complications, the negotiations have mainly included senators and the White House. There’s still no indication of whether GOP leadership in the House has given any assurances on passage of the supplemental. A large contingent of House Republicans remain opposed to additional Ukraine aid — and the Senate’s potential border deal could struggle to meet conservatives’ standards.

“I’m doing my best to meet Republicans where they are and I continue to do that. But the chances of our success have never been never been astronomically high since the two issues got tied together,” Murphy said, referring to GOP demands to link Ukraine and border policy.

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