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Schumer plans quick move to scaled-back war funding package

Move would put pressure on Senate Republicans whose main objections have been to border, immigration provisions

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks at a press conference in the Capitol on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks at a press conference in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is preparing to quickly turn the page Wednesday from his chamber’s doomed border security and immigration package to a “clean” supplemental spending measure for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific.

After a 1 p.m. Wednesday cloture vote on the motion to proceed, which is expected to fall short of the necessary 60 votes, Schumer, D-N.Y., intends to call up an amended version of the bipartisan $118.3 billion emergency appropriations bill. The same procedural vote on the scaled-back measure, which would lop off $20.2 billion in border-related spending and over 100 pages of immigration policy language from the original, would occur later on Wednesday.

A Senate Democratic aide familiar with the plan said Schumer has the ability under the rules to offer a motion to reconsider a previous motion to take up the bill with an amendment, since he filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the underlying shell vehicle. If Schumer had called up the motion to proceed to the bill again using his motion to reconsider available since December’s rejected cloture vote, this option would not have been available.

Schumer informed the White House and his caucus last week of this plan, which was first reported by Punchbowl News, to be implemented if Republicans scuttled the broader bipartisan bill with the border package negotiated by Sens. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and James Lankford, R-Okla.

After the cloture vote on the combined package goes down, if 60 votes are achieved on the amended version sans border and immigration provisions, then it would trigger potentially several days of debate and additional procedural votes.

But under this plan, if enough Republicans vote for it, a wartime supplemental could be on its way to the House before lawmakers head out to the Munich Security Conference next weekend. The Senate-drafted package has over $60 billion for Ukraine, more than $14 billion for Israel, nearly $5 billion for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific allies, $10 billion in humanitarian aid and more.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., meanwhile, is under enormous pressure from his right flank not to bring a war spending package to the floor without cost offsets, even if the border and immigration portions are dropped. But Ukraine aid backers have quietly discussed an end run around House GOP leaders: While exceedingly rare, a successful 218-signature discharge petition could force a vote on a Senate-passed bill without Johnson’s approval.

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