A classified briefing aimed at making progress on the Biden administration’s requests for increased foreign aid for the wars in Ukraine and Israel achieved the opposite effect, if it achieved anything at all, Republican senators as Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney agreed afterward.
The Tuesday briefing in the sensitive compartmentalized information facility was “the most heated … I’ve seen,” Sen. Josh Hawley told NBC News.
“Well, usually senators don’t scream at each other in front of, you know, the secretary of defense and so forth,” Hawley added.
“What most, or many, Republican senators want to talk about here is the border, and [Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer] would prefer not to do that in this venue; obviously, there’s nobody there to talk about the border,” he said. “So that was a point of some heated disagreement.”
That “heated disagreement,” Schumer claimed, began when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell started asked questions about border security that no one in the briefing was prepared to address.
“The briefing, led by the secretaries of defense and state, as well as the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was held behind closed doors to allow all 100 senators to ask questions about the administration’s funding request,” NBC reported.
The meeting “was immediately hijacked by Leader McConnell,” Schumer claimed. “The first question instead of asking our panelists — he called on [Oklahoma Republican Sen. James] Lankford to give a five-minute talk about the negotiations on the border. And that wasn’t the purpose of the meeting, at all.”
“One of them started — it was disrespectful — started screaming at one of the generals and challenging him to why he didn’t go to the border,” Schumer added, apparently referring to one of the Republican senators present.
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, however, said that despite Schumer’s claims to the contrary, it was not Republicans who “injected” the border discussions into the talks around additional funds for Ukraine and Israel.
“Schumer [was] running his big mouth, claiming that it was Republicans who, quote, unquote, injected immigration for border security in this debate — and I had none of that,” Cotton said. “I said: ‘Nope, Republicans haven’t injected border security into this debate. Joe Biden sent us a supplemental bill with border provisions in it.’ He had the misfortune of spreading those lies right after someone had handed me a microphone.”
Other Republicans agreed that there was little point to even holding the briefing if there was no one there prepared to discuss enhanced border security.
“People got up and walked out, because this is a waste of time,” North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer told NBC.
“To say it was a waste of time would be an understatement,” Missouri’s Eric Schmitt added. “It was insulting to have a meeting in there — we’ve had, like, I don’t know, a dozen meetings on Ukraine — to not have anybody in there from [the Department of Homeland Security] is the height of — if there was a Mount Rushmore of tone deafness, Chuck Schumer would have his face on the mountain.”
Even Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham agreed.
“We want to help Ukraine and Israel, but we’ve got to have the Democrats recognize that the trade here, the deal, is we stop the open border,” the Utah Republican said. “They don’t want to do that. So Republicans are just walking out of the briefing because the people there are not willing to actually discuss what it takes to get a deal done.”
“It started off pretty bad … a lot of tension in the room because nobody talked about the border,” South Carolina’s Graham added. “In case you don’t have a television or you’ve been living in a cave, you would know that most Republicans feel like we need to address the broken border.”
The previous day, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young had written to leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress that failure to provide additional arms and equipment to Ukraine will “kneecap” the country in its war with Russia.
“The clash highlighted just how far apart the two parties remain over the issue ahead of a Senate vote expected Wednesday on President Joe Biden’s funding package,” NBC noted. “Senate Republicans have vowed to filibuster it because of a lack of sufficient immigration restrictions. Bipartisan talks on immigration policy changes fell apart at the end of last week.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.