Dec 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Senate cuts into holiday recess to pursue year-end border deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The Senate is expected to blow past their planned holiday departure date and return to session next week, senators said Thursday.

Why it matters: Senate Democrats are holding out hope that they can cut a last minute deal with Republicans on an emergency national security spending package before the end of the year.

What they're saying: Several Democratic senators leaving their caucus lunch on Thursday told Axios they expect to return next week.

  • "That's the plan," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), noting there is "a lot" the Senate can vote on including military promotions, judicial nominations and reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration.

State of play: Senate negotiators and the Biden administration are trying to hammer out a deal to pair Ukraine aid in the supplemental spending package with restrictive border policies.

  • Senators have been negotiating for weeks – with the recent intervention of Biden officials – but a deal has so far failed to materialize.
  • Durbin described the current state of the talks as "serious, positive conversations" and said part of the reason for keeping the Senate in session is to maintain "momentum."

The other side: Republicans expressed skepticism that a supplemental can get passed before the end of the year.

  • Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said negotiators are "making progress" but "it takes a lot to reduce it to text and, right now, they're still talking concepts," predicting that conservatives are also likely to delay the process with objections.
  • Several GOP senators also pointed to the fact that the House is out of session, meaning it will be especially difficult to get a Senate-passed bill signed into law.
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