U.S. Senator from Maine Susan Collins was one of four Republican Senators to join Democrats in voting in favor of the $118 billion border and foreign aid package in key vote Wednesday.
The long-awaited bill, the product of months of bipartisan negotiations, was blocked by the Senate in a 49 to 50 vote.
Sen. Collins, Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense, played a role in shaping certain provisions in the legislation, including one that would have granted asylum-seeking migrants quicker access to work authorizations, a provision that a bipartisan cadre of state lawmakers have also supported.
In a Sunday statement Collins applauded the efforts of Sens. James Lankford (R-Olka.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) in negotiating the deal, which tied roughly $20 billion in border security funding to $60 billion in aid to Ukraine and $14.1 billion in security assistance to Israel.
Collins said the legislation was centered around “securing our border, helping Ukraine counter Russian aggression, assisting Israel in its fight against terrorism, and deterring a rising China.”
Collins was joined by Republican Sens. Lankford, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah in voting in favor of the deal.
Dissent among a handful of Democratic Senators came from Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Alex Padilla of California, all of whom voted against the bill, alongside independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, initially voted in favor of the measure, but later changed his vote so that he could move for the bill to be reconsidered in the future.
When details of the Senate deal emerged last Sunday, GOP leaders in the House were quick to denounce the legislation as “dead on arrival,” casting doubts on whether Senate Republicans would back the bill.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said the compromise bill was “even worse than expected” and that it “won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created.”
Following the Senate’s vote blocking the deal Wednesday evening, Johnson posted to X writing that “Senate Republicans did the right thing” by rejecting the deal.
“Let me be clear, as I have been all along: National security begins by securing our own border,” Johnson wrote. “The House, and the American people, insist upon it.”
Other Republicans criticized the border security measures being tied to foreign aid, including former President Donald Trump, who called the bill “a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for the Republican Party.”
“It takes the HORRIBLE JOB the Democrats have done on Immigration and the Border, absolves them, and puts it all squarely on the shoulders of Republicans,” Trump wrote Monday on his Truth Social platform. “Don’t be STUPID!!! We need a separate Border and Immigration bill. It should not be tied to foreign aid in any way, shape or form!”
Sen. Murphy, the lead Democrat negotiator of the legislation, called the failure of the compromise deal “shocking.”
“I mean, the whole thing is still shocking to me. I am still shaking, having watched the most bizarre, maddening phenomenon I’ve ever been a part of in politics,” Murphy told The Washington Post Thursday morning. “On Sunday afternoon, we had 20 to 25 gettable Republicans. Twenty-four hours later we had four.”
Murkowski, one of the GOP negotiators, told CNN Wednesday that she was “pissed off” about the failure of the bill.
“I have a difficult time understanding again how anyone else in the future is going to want to be on that negotiating team — on anything — if we are going to be against it,” Murkowski said.
Following the failure of the border security and foreign aid package legislation Wednesday, the Senate voted 67 to 32 to advance to debate a $95 billion bill that would provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — without the $20 billion in border security funding.
Seventeen Republican Senators voted in favor of moving forward the pared-down foreign aid package, including Sen. Collins.
Speaking in support of the foreign aid package on the Senate floor, Collins said “there are pivotal times in our nation’s history when what we do in this chamber really matters.”
“How we vote may well determine whether people live or whether they die; whether men and women live under the dictates of an authoritarian regime or as free people in a democratic nation; whether terrorists continue to commit atrocities, kidnap children, kill our troops, or are defeated,” Collins said.
“The defense supplemental bill before us would strengthen our own military. It would send a strong message to Putin that his goal of capturing free, democratic nations will not be allowed to succeed,” Collins added.
“It would reassure our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, that terrorists will not achieve their goal of wiping that nation off the face of the map. It would counter Chinese aggression, and, Mr. President, it would rebuild our own defense industrial base,” the Maine Republican Senator said.