Tensions flare after Graham accuses Sinema of making ‘half-baked’ efforts at the border

Tensions flared on the Senate floor Thursday when Sen. Christmas cinema (Arizona) Senator asked. Lindsey Graham (R.S.C.) To explain why he voted against moving forward with the negotiated border security agreement, Graham responded by criticizing it as a “half-assed” effort to secure the border.

Sinema appeared frustrated about Graham’s vote to block the border deal from being discussed on the Senate floor after Graham and his staff played what she called an “integral” role in crafting the bipartisan deal, along with Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Murphy (D-Okla.). Connecticut).

Sinema challenged Graham to justify his vote to block debate on the bill, which also includes other foreign policy spending including aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Graham said the deal Sinema negotiated “did a very good job in many ways,” but added, “I don’t think it was enough.”

Sinema then asked why he was prevented from even introducing the bill, depriving his colleagues of the opportunity to offer amendments to improve it.

That’s when the fireworks started flying.

Graham said he didn’t think Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.) was going to give him a chance to introduce amendments that had any chance of passing and then make it as blunt as possible.

“That’s what I’m saying. This was a half-assed effort to handle border security.”

That rebuke did not sit well with Sinema, who worked over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays with fellow negotiators to craft the 250-page border agreement.

She tried to ask Graham several follow-up questions, but her South Carolina colleague refused to take the floor, his voice rising with emotion as he vented his complaints about how the bill was prepared behind closed doors.

“I haven’t seen any willingness on the part of anyone to allow an amendment process where we can deal with the border issue,” Graham said warmly. “That ass is backwards.”

When Sinema finally had a chance to ask Graham another question, she reminded him of basic Senate procedure that allows amendments to be considered only after senators agree to a motion to move forward with the bill.

“Can you help me understand why you voted against the motion to proceed, before we can offer any amendments?” she asked.

But Graham scoffed at the idea that there was a real chance of changing the border agreement that Sinema, Lankford and Murphy negotiated with the White House.

He added: “I think the reform is there.” “That is why I voted no, because I did not see any willingness” to have a long discussion on the amendments.

“So to my colleague from Arizona: No, no, no. “This was not a real effort to find border security in a bipartisan way,” he said, insisting that Schumer tried to rush the bill through the chamber.

When the Senate last passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, the process took weeks, Graham said, noting that as one of the architects of the deal, “we got kicked out of the park for weeks.”

“We didn’t do that here, so you’re losing votes on Ukraine,” he told Sinema.

Sinema seemed puzzled by Graham’s claim that it was not a true bipartisan effort, noting that “Sen. The Graham team and Senator Graham himself were an integral part of the four-month negotiations.

Murphy, the Senate Democratic negotiator, backed Sinema by noting that Graham had plenty of opportunities to craft a border agreement.

“His senior staff were in the room when we negotiated the bill. We negotiated the key terms directly with him.”

Updated at 5:40 p.m

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(Tags for translation)Kyrsten Sinema

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