WASHINGTON — As the House adjourned Thursday for Christmas recess with plans to return in the New Year, the Senate decided to delay its recess break and return next week to finalize a deal on immigration and aid to Ukraine and Israel.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the change on the floor Thursday afternoon, a day after immigration negotiators showed few signs of confidence in reaching a deal.
“Over the last few days, negotiations have made good progress on the way forward to get national security assistance. As I said, if we believe something is important and urgent, we have to stay and get the job done,” Schumer said. “It’s definitely on the side. It’s important. It’s urgent.”
“So for the information of all senators, after we finish today, the Senate will return on Monday,” Schumer, DNY., said. “This will give negotiators from the White House, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans time to work on trying to reach a framework agreement by the end of the week.”
Senate Republicans say the immigration deal is key to unlocking their votes for U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel, a high priority for President Joe Biden.
Schumer said the Senate believes “we will act as soon as we are ready to move forward on the amendment.” Some Democrats hope the chamber can pass it next week, but negotiators have yet to agree on a framework so it’s a steep uphill climb.
“We are going to work until daylight. We’ll definitely still work,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the GOP’s lead negotiator, said Thursday afternoon shortly before the Senate left for the weekend.
“We need to finish the text,” he said, adding that House Republicans “need to look at it” before considering whether to support it.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., the Democratic chief negotiator, said: “We’re obviously going to work through the weekend and hopefully continue to take advantage of the progress.”
“It’s not easy, but it’s an emergency,” he said. “We don’t have the benefit of a clear schedule in January.”
Sen. Rep. John Kennedy, R-La., said he plans to return next week but some Republicans don’t want to.
“I know some of my colleagues don’t want to come back because they think we don’t have enough time,” he said.
With the lower chamber expected to return on Jan. 9, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., targeted the Senate on the way out.
Johnson was referring to the Republican border and immigration package passed by the House earlier this year, known as HR 2, which Democrats in the Senate say is a non-starter. Many House conservatives have said they won’t accept anything less than HR 2 in exchange for providing Ukraine aid.
The White House scolded House Republicans for delaying the plan for a year after rejecting Biden’s national security funding package.
“While President Biden works hard every day to make American families safer, Republicans in Congress are seriously undermining our national security interests — domestically and globally — because they’d rather go on vacation than do their jobs,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates. On a note.