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Chuck Schumer encourages Democrats to more forcefully push Senate GOP on new Ukraine aid

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is encouraging Democrats to more forcefully push Senate Republicans on approving new aid for Ukraine given the hazy path forward in the House GOP, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

Schumer told Senate Democrats to more urgently engage with Republicans on Ukraine during a leadership call on Tuesday morning, according to a person familiar with the conversations, singling out the Senate GOP’s border proposal as perilous to Ukraine funding.

House and Senate Republicans are seeking to link border security with Ukraine aid, but their Monday proposal was rejected out of hand by Democrats and there are no real bipartisan talks occurring on Capitol Hill at the moment.

“Senate Republicans basically copied large chunks of the House’s radical [border security] bill. And that’s the asking price for funding Ukraine?” Schumer said on Tuesday morning. He called it a “huge mistake,” though he said he remained open to broader discussions about border security and immigration reform.

Congress is at risk of leaving out Ukraine aid from any deal to fund the government before Thanksgiving recess. This would be a replay of September when the House GOP passed a Ukraine-free spending bill and punted the debate on aid to the war-torn country to later in the fall.

Now, Speaker Mike Johnson is seeking to move just Israel aid and deal with Ukraine later in tandem with the border, though his Israel proposal’s cuts to IRS funding turned off most Democrats. Senate Republicans are mostly deferential to Johnson so far, in light of the stronger opposition to Ukraine aid in the House GOP.

The government must be funded by Nov. 17, providing a possible vehicle for parts of President Joe Biden’s supplemental request to hitch a ride — but there’s no clear path on that, either. At the moment tens of billions for Ukraine, Israel, the border and Taiwan are all at risk of being left on the sidelines, and there’s no clear funding plan for avoiding a shutdown, either.

The Senate Democratic Caucus is expected to discuss Ukraine at its weekly party lunch on Tuesday as well as all the other outstanding issues, while House Republicans hash out the matter on Tuesday morning.

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