The long-stalled emergency national security package to send aid to Ukraine and Israel is back on track in the Senate and headed toward passage within days — but not before Republican senators try to take a few partisan shots at the legislation.
The senators are slowing progress on the $95 billion measure as they seek votes on proposed revisions, particularly concerning border security — despite having voted this week to kill a version of the bill that included a bipartisan deal to crack down on immigration.
The demands amount to an exercise in political face-saving. Republicans said for months that they would never approve funds to help Ukraine fight off a Russian invasion without simultaneously taking significant steps to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. But their decision to kill a proposal to do just that means the aid will move forward without immigration restrictions.
Now, they are settling for staging a series of votes that aim to show the right-wing Republican base, the G.O.P.-led House and former President Donald J. Trump that they tried to muscle through tough new border policies — and blame Democrats for blocking them.
Senators planned a rare weekend session to work through the bill, with a critical vote on the legislation expected Sunday.
“Democrats are willing to consider reasonable and fair amendments here on the floor,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Friday.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader who has been a vocal champion of aiding Ukraine in its war against Russian aggression, urged his colleagues to either fall in line behind the bill or at least allow it to advance to a final vote.
“Every single one of us knows what’s at stake here. And it’s time for every one of us to deal with it head-on,” he said.
Republicans conceded that they stood little chance of altering the proposal because doing so would likely require 60 votes, a threshold that is likely impossible to reach with only 49 Republican senators after they rejected the bipartisan border deal. Instead, the votes they are demanding, “realistically, would be more likely making a statement of where our conference is, rather than anything that would be folded into the bill,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina.
Mr. Tillis, one of 17 Republicans who voted to advance the earlier version of the bill this week, has said he expected to vote for the final foreign aid package, so long as Republicans get to try to make changes.
But not every Republican agreed.
“For those of you who want to help Ukraine, you’ve made it harder,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said of the foreign aid bill’s proponents on the Senate floor. Mr. Graham, who has also been a strong proponent of backing Ukraine, voted to block the legislation this week. He argued that there was no point in pushing through a measure that would face resistance in the G.O.P.-led House, where the majority of Republicans are opposed to sending more aid to Kyiv.
“You don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting it through the House, because we took the border issue and we didn’t address it the way it should have been,” Mr. Graham said.
Republicans, deeply divided over the legislation, have labored to decide what changes to seek. Their wish list included a severely restrictive border security bill that passed the House last spring with only Republicans on board. A vote on that measure would allow Senate Republicans to demonstrate solidarity with their House counterparts, even though it stands no chance of being added to the bill.
Republicans were also rallying behind a proposal to change federal rules governing how long migrant children can be held in detention facilities and to whom they are released. Mr. Trump tried to undo that standard when he was president, but was blocked by the courts.
Republicans also want the chance to alter the foreign aid portions of the legislation. Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, has proposed to strip $7.9 billion in economic assistance for Ukraine from the bill, which he has said European nations could cover while the United States focuses on supplying Kyiv with weapons to fight Russia. Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, wants to add legislation to extend and expand a program compensating Americans injured or sickened from exposure to fallout and waste from nuclear test sites.