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Senate Republicans block bipartisan national security supplemental bill from moving forward

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(WASHINGTON) — As expected, the Senate’s vote to advance the bipartisan national security supplemental bill with the negotiated border provisions failed on Wednesday. It’s the first of two votes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is forcing on the bill — the second of which removes the border provisions, but maintains foreign aid measures.

In the procedural vote, the Senate voted 49-50 to proceed with the national security supplemental bill, which includes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan as well as the new border policy deal. Sixty votes were needed to advance the legislation.

Republicans in the Senate had signaled that they would sink the national security supplemental bill — despite pleas from key negotiators just before the vote. The Senate will soon vote on the second option Schumer presented, which is a procedural vote on whether to begin debate on a national security package that includes the foreign aid but none of the border provisions or funds. It is unclear whether that will get the 60 votes necessary to advance to debate.

In the first vote, several senators crossed party lines with Republican Sens. James Lankford, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney voting to move forward with the bill while the rest of Republicans voted against it. Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Alex Padilla, and Independent Bernie Sanders voted against moving forward. The rest of the Democrats voted in favor of moving forward.

Schumer switched his vote to a no at the end of the vote — a procedural move that allows him the opportunity to call the bill back up for reconsideration at a later date if he so chooses.

Schumer spoke to reporters about the Republican flip-flop on the border deal, noting that his GOP colleagues insisted on border provisions as a condition to passing Ukraine aid before changing their tune and suggesting moving forward on a package that drops the border provisions.

“So first Republicans said they would only do Ukraine and Israel humanitarian aid with border. Then they said they would not do it with border. Well, we’re going to give them both options,” Schumer said. “We’ll take either one. We just hope they can come to yes on something.”

It could be another blow to congressional Republicans who suffered two disappointing losses in the House Tuesday: the failure to pass the GOP-led impeachment efforts against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the defeat of the Israeli aid package.

Schumer said he began devising a Plan B for the border supplemental when former President Donald Trump began weighing in and it became clear Republicans were turning on the package.

It’s not at all clear whether a national security supplemental without border provisions will get the 60 votes it needs to advance, but Schumer said he’d be willing to offer Republicans the opportunity to amend the package, if so.

A frustrated Lankford, who spent four months negotiating the border provisions with other senators, spoke on the floor before the votes and said that border security is a “problem that needs to be solved” and said bipartisan collaboration is needed to pass border provisions.

“We need a change in law — I understand we have differences, but we’ve got to sit down together to figure out how we will solve this problem because the American people sent us here to do that.”

The Oklahoma Republican said he remains willing to sit down with anyone who is interested in solving the problem at the border, because Americans are “ticked off” at the crisis and at congressional inaction.

“What I hear from most Oklahomans is ‘Do something. Don’t just sit there, do something — make progress but don’t allow this to keep going. Stop it where you can.’ So that’s what we worked to do,” Lankford said.

If the bill without border provisions does passing in the Senate, it’s unclear whether House Speaker Mike Johnson might bring the bill to the floor. Schumer said he hopes Johnson does.

“The House is in chaos it doesn’t behoove the speaker well to block everything because 30 hard-right-wing people just want chaos like Donald Trump does,” Schumer said.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said “in principle” he supports a national-security-only aid package without border provisions if the Senate can pass one.

“it’s certainly something that I support because we have to move forward in a comprehensive way to address our national security issues. After extreme Republicans have held our national security issues hostage around the border for months, and now have abandoned their own position,” Jeffries said at his weekly news conference.

Jeffries said “there are several Republicans who are not in leadership” who have voiced “willingness” to work together to advance a national security package. He did not name any specific Republicans.

Jeffries said he hopes the House can advance a national security supplemental when the chamber returns next week.

ABC News’ Lauren Peller and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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