Lawmakers Strive For Border Security Reform In Aid Package Negotiations

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford is playing a major role in the border policy talks as the lead negotiator for Senate Republicans.

Monday, December 18th 2023, 8:24 pm



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As a trailblazing jurist is remembered in the nation’s capital, a small group of lawmakers continues with its own trailblazing efforts, hoping to reach an agreement on immigration reform.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford is playing a major role in the border policy talks as the lead negotiator for Senate Republicans. Lankford and the others, which include Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-AZ), stayed in Washington over the weekend and were right back at it Monday.

"I salute my colleagues for their excellent work, and I'm encouraged by the progress they made over the weekend," said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the floor Monday.

Similar words of gratitude came from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): "I’m especially grateful to Senator Lankford for stewarding Republicans’ efforts to produce meaningful policy change."

Republicans, in the Senate and in the House, have made clear they will not even consider voting for President Biden's supplemental aid package -- $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel -- unless it includes significant changes in border policy.

The two Senate leaders are not expecting a vote on a final package before the new year, but each expressed confidence that a deal is within reach.

"Finding middle ground is exceptionally hard, and both sides must accept they will have to make concessions," said Schumer, "and it’s going to take more time to get it done."

McConnell, a big supporter of providing aid to Ukraine, says it's critical this gets done.

"There is simply no room for falling short here," McConnell stated, "we cannot afford to get this wrong."

Meanwhile, across the street at the United States Supreme Court, the late Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lay in repose all day Monday. Nominated by Ronald Reagan to the high court in 1981, O'Connor was the first female associate justice and proved herself a moderate and true consensus builder, casting critical votes on issues such as religious freedom, affirmative action, and reproductive rights in her 25 years on the bench. She retired in 2006.

A private funeral service for Justice O’Connor, who was 93, will be held Tuesday at the National Cathedral. Among those giving eulogies will be Chief Justice John Roberts and President Biden.

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