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Senate Republicans block Biden's emergency funding bill for Ukraine

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (L), R-Ky., Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., head to a closed door meeting the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 21. On Wednesday, the Senate failed to advance legislation to fund Ukraine's defenses against Russia. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans have blocked a procedural vote to advance President Joe Biden's bill to fund the defenses of Ukraine and other allies as the GOP lawmakers fight for inclusion of greater policy changes to domestic border security.

Sixty votes were needed to advance the bill on Wednesday, and despite Biden giving lawmakers a last-minute warning that history will harshly judge "those who turn their back on freedom's cause," no Republican jumped the aisle to side with their Democratic colleagues, and the legislation faltered in a 49-51 vote.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted with the Republicans, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York changed his vote to a "no" to be able to bring the bill back to the floor at a later date.

"Sad night for the Senate and America," Schumer said in a statement online.

"Republicans blocked funding for Ukraine, Israel, humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza, funding for the Indo-Pacific. If Republicans don't get serious about a national security package, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's going to walk right through Ukraine and Europe."

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks urging Congress to pass his national security supplemental request that includes funding to support Ukraine, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks urging Congress to pass his national security supplemental request that includes funding to support Ukraine, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI

The Biden administration has been warning for months that Congress-approved funds for Ukraine's defenses were near spent, and in October, after Israel launched its war in Gaza against Hamas, the president unveiled a $111 billion emergency supplemental package that includes $61 billion for Ukraine and more than $10 billion for Israel.

There is also founding to strengthen the U.S. defense base across Europe and the wider region, including in the Indo-Pacific, and to bolster the southern border.

However, Republicans want more for border security. On Tuesday, Republicans stormed out of a classified meeting on the war in Ukraine in protest that there was no talk about the border.

On Wednesday afternoon ahead of the vote, Biden spoke from the Roosevelt Room, saying it was "stunning" that Congress has crept this close to its holiday recess without approving funds of Ukraine.

"The Republicans in Congress are willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership not just to Ukraine, but beyond. "

"Who is prepared to walk away from holding Putin accountable for his behavior? Who among us is really prepared to do that," the president asked.

He accused Republicans of being willing to "kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process" in order to secure what they want without bipartisan compromise.

"Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security, holding Ukraine's funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies."

The Biden administration on

From the floor prior to the vote, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans would down the bill over their border concerns.

"As we've said for weeks, legislation that does not include policy changes to secure our borders will not pass the Senate," he said.

Following the vote, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said nothing changes: Congress still must act on funding Ukraine.

"With funds to arm Ukraine nearly exhausted, we now face a defining moment of truth: will the United States continue to stand with Ukraine in its fight for freedom, or will we ignore the lessons of history and let Putin and autocracy prevail?" he said.