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Congress takes step towards reaching agreement on renewal of U.S. financial aid for Ukraine

Congress takes step towards reaching agreement on renewal of U.S. financial aid for Ukraine Photo: The Senate of Congress approved the agreement on financial aid for Ukraine (Getty Images)

Congress has approved the text of an agreement regarding the U.S.-Mexico border, upon the adoption of which the renewal of military aid funding to Ukraine will depend. The document's text is expected to be released in the coming days, according to The Guardian.

The fate of financial aid to Ukraine was hanging by a thread on Wednesday evening, with the prospects of reaching a compromise on the border appearing extremely bleak. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the compromise, stating that the deal could "undermine" Donald Trump's chances in the presidential elections in November.

Punchbowl News reported that McConnell allegedly referred to Trump as the "candidate" during a closed-door meeting with Republicans on Wednesday, confirming that the "policy on this issue has changed." McConnell noted that Trump is their candidate, and it would be unwise to advance a bipartisan immigration bill that could neutralize one of Biden's major vulnerabilities. "We don’t want to do anything to undermine him," McConnell said, referring to Trump.

However, the very next day in the Capitol, McConnell told Bloomberg News that talks on immigration were "ongoing." He stated that he is fully "on board with the negotiations" and denied his previously antagonistic position.

Thorny deal

In Congress, there is a discussion of a deal that involves significant concessions from Democrats to curb illegal migration to the U.S. from Mexico. In return, Republicans are expected to support a military aid package for Israel and Ukraine, which faces opposition from the far-right wing of the party.

Negotiations have recently become complicated, as Trump openly urged speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson on social media not to approve the deal "unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions and Millions of people."

Senate Republicans, who support border negotiations, argue that the party should seize the opportunity to address the issue of the record influx of people arriving at the U.S. southern border—a situation both parties and the White House deem a crisis.

Republican Senator from Utah, Mitt Romney, who insisted on his party's approval of military aid to Ukraine, emphasized the importance of the border issue for Trump. He criticized Trump's unwillingness to address the border problem and accused him of blaming Biden for it.

"The reality is that we have a crisis at the border, the American people are suffering as a result of what’s happening at the border. And someone running for president ought to try and get the problem solved as opposed to saying: ‘Hey, save that problem. Don’t solve it. Let me take credit for solving it later,'" said Romney.

Migration issue at the southern U.S. borders

Even in less contentious times, immigration remains one of the most pressing issues in American politics, and attempts to reform the outdated system have repeatedly failed. This issue has become sensitive for many Americans, most of whom do not approve of the Biden administration's approach to addressing it.

Donald Trump made immigration a central issue of his election campaign, outlining a draconian vision for his second term, including mass raids, detention camps, and increased funding for the construction of the long-promised border wall with Mexico.

Trump's allies on Capitol Hill argue that the bipartisan deal will only provide political cover for Biden and will not solve the problem. Others claim that the Senate plan was designed to force the Republican-controlled House, where the speaker is under pressure from the far-right flank of his party, to compromise.

"If a deal falls apart, Schumer and Biden will be forced to look for alternative legislative paths to approving aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But with Republicans demanding border security measures in exchange for their votes, it remains far from certain that tying the aid to must-pass spending bills or bringing it to the floor as a standalone measure would garner the necessary 60 votes in the Senate," The Guardian reports.

The rejection of the deal will have global consequences: the Pentagon warns that Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines of the war with Russia risk being left without ammunition. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that the "future of the war in Ukraine" and the "security of our Western democracy" depend on whether Congress reaches an agreement.

At the same time, according to one of the negotiators, Democratic Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy, the fate of the deal will be known soon.

"I think the Republican Congress is going to make a decision in the next 24 hours as to whether they actually want to get something done or whether they want to leave the border a mess for political reasons," he said.

As of Thursday noon, December 25, senators announced that a deal is "within reach" and promised to release its text in the coming days.

Challenges with U.S. financial aid for Ukraine

Ukraine faces the risk of losing military assistance from the United States due to a delay in the approval of financial aid packages by the American Congress.

On October 20, U.S. President Joe Biden submitted a $106 billion bill to Congress to assist Israel, Ukraine, and allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Of this amount, $61.3 billion was proposed for Ukraine, and $14.3 billion for Israel.

However, on December 6, the Senate blocked the start of debates on this aid package proposed by Biden. The reason for this was the demands of Republicans to incorporate a more stringent set of measures to protect the southern U.S. border with Mexico into the bill.

Biden hopes that an agreement regarding the U.S.-Mexico border will be reached in the Senate next week.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has noted that the U.S. will be unable to provide necessary weaponry to Ukraine and support the transferred systems without Congress approving additional funding.