Republicans Sideline Zelensky With Border Demands, Imperiling Aid Package

“He simply said, ‘I know that I should not be involved’” in the discussions about the border, said Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota. “He made it clear that he understood that that was an issue. He was there to talk about their needs. And he did a very good job of not getting involved, not being pulled into the discussion.”

In the meantime, bipartisan talks in the Senate aimed at breaking the impasse on immigration policy have deteriorated, and lawmakers are openly talking about the likelihood that they will leave Washington for the holidays without passing aid for Ukraine.

A bipartisan group of senators and congressional aides met in the Capitol with White House officials and Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, on Tuesday evening to continue negotiations. Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, told reporters that negotiators had “made progress” toward a deal.

Still, those talks have not yielded much in recent days, and time is not on their side.

“It is practically impossible” for Congress to pass a bill on Ukraine and border security before the holidays, said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the minority leader who has been a leading champion of backing Kyiv in its war against Russia.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said a stringent House-passed border measure championed by conservative hard-liners was dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate. “But if Republicans show they’re serious about meeting us in the middle, we are willing to meet them in the middle,” he said.

He said some G.O.P. lawmakers were simply “unwilling to budge” on their border demands.

“Unfortunately, it may seem the case that these are both excuses, and they really want to kill funding for Ukraine and never had any intention of passing it,” Mr. Schumer said. “That’s not true of all Republicans — but too many.”

Karoun Demirjian, Kayla Guo and Robert Jimison contributed reporting.

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