Senate deal on border, Ukraine aid won’t happen before end of year: Schumer

(WASHINGTON) — As negotiations slog along, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said a deal on border and Ukraine funding will not be completed before the end of the year — though talks will still continue this week among a small group of key principals.

“Negotiations aren’t easy. We know it’s going to take more time. But I am significantly more optimistic today than I was Thursday when we left based on the negotiations that have occurred all weekend,” Schumer said during his weekly news conference at the Capitol. “We have only one option: we have to succeed. The stakes are too high for America, for Europe, for the Middle East of the world.”

In his clearest indication yet on timing, Schumer added “our goal is as soon as we get back, to get something done.”

A Biden-backed supplemental aid package includes billions of dollars for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as border enforcement — yet the package remains stalled in Congress.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said while there has been progress, the White House and Senate negotiators still “aren’t there.”

“With regard to the border discussion, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve made some significant progress, but we obviously aren’t there,” McConnell said at the Capitol during his weekly news conference.

McConnell said the process of solving the nation’s immigration problem is “not easy,” noting that the Congress hasn’t passed a significant immigration bill since President Ronald Reagan’s second term.

“I think this is the most dangerous time since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McConnell said. “No question this package is extremely important.”

Members of the Senate delayed their recess after Schumer said last week that the Senate would stay in Washington to vote on the national security aid package some time this week.

However, with nothing for senators to begin to consider, there has been increasing pessimism from those who returned to Washington. Many showed their complete lack of faith in negotiations by simply refusing to return.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has been leading talks for Democrats, said a deal is getting closer, but there is a great deal of nuance required.

“We worked 24/7 all throughout the weekend, and we are closer than ever before to an agreement, but as I’ve said to many of you, we need to get this right. There’s a reason why Congress hasn’t passed major immigration or border reform in 40 years,” Murphy said. “This is tough to come to a compromise and it’s just as tough to write to make sure that you get the ideas down onto paper in a way that makes sure that the policy is implemented correctly.”

Schumer could bring up a procedural vote on the supplemental bill whenever he likes. But Republicans have been clear they’ll object to moving forward with any procedural vote if they don’t have access to bill text.

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