Republicans in Congress who have spent months demanding that any aid to Ukraine be paired with a crackdown against migration into the United States got what they asked for when a bipartisan group of senators released a $118.3 billion agreement that would provide both.
On Monday, many of them rejected it anyway.
It was the latest indication that the political ground for any agreement on immigration — particularly in an election year when it is expected to be a central issue of the presidential campaign — has vanished.
With former President Donald J. Trump eager to attack President Biden’s record on the border and right-wing Republicans in Congress falling in line behind him, a compromise was always going to be a long shot. The long-awaited release on Sunday night of the text of the 370-page bill only served to inflame Republican divisions on an issue that once united them.
Even as Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader and a champion of funding for Ukraine, took to the floor to push for action on the bill, many of his fellow Republican leaders were savaging it. Speaker Mike Johnson denounced the measure as “even worse than we expected” and, in a joint statement with his leadership team, repeated what had become his mantra about the deal — that it would be “dead on arrival” in the House.
Even more temperate Republican voices like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who had encouraged the negotiations, said that after reviewing it, he harbored “serious concerns.” (Mr. Cornyn, who is often mentioned as a potential successor to Mr. McConnell as the Republican leader, notably gave the statement to the hard-right news outlet Breitbart.)
By Monday evening, Mr. McConnell was privately acknowledging that the measure had hemorrhaged support among Republicans, and recommending they move to block it unless Democrats agreed to debate it further and allow them to propose changes.
It pointed to a bleak outlook for the complicated compromise bill that followed a longstanding pattern on Capitol Hill, where major immigration agreements have often come close to enactment only to fall apart just before the finish line after Republicans condemn them as too weak.
The first test for the measure will come on Wednesday, when an initial procedural vote is planned. It needs 60 votes to advance, meaning at least 10 Republicans would have to back it. Even if the bill could scale that hurdle and pass the Senate, there appears to be no path forward in the House.
“The $64,000 question now is whether or not senators can drown out the outside noise, drown out people like Donald Trump who want chaos and do the right thing for America,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said in a speech on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon. “I urge senators of good will on both sides of the aisle to do the right thing and tune the chaos out.”
Mr. Schumer reminded his colleagues that “we live in an era of divided government, and that means that both sides need to compromise if we want to pass a bill.”
Yet the Republicans’ retreat from the deal also threatened to sap support on the left, where some Democrats are reluctant to support a bill that pro-immigration groups have denounced as a betrayal of American values and that some conservative groups like the National Border Patrol Council were endorsing.
For Democrats who have pressed for any immigration measure to include legal status for large groups of undocumented people, including the so-called Dreamers brought to the United States as children, a vote for a bill that contains no such provisions and has no path to becoming law anyway is a bitter pill.
Among Republicans, there is even less enthusiasm for finding any middle ground at the start of an election year in which Mr. Trump is already winning nominating contests. He has once again made the border a central plank of his campaign and encouraged Republicans to oppose anything short of the hard-line policies he instituted as president. And his “America First” approach to foreign policy has also helped to sap G.O.P. support for sending aid to Ukraine for its war against Russian aggression.
Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana and the chairman of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, reiterated Mr. Trump’s talking points on Monday in saying bluntly that he would be a “no” vote on the bill.
“I can’t support a bill that doesn’t secure the border, provides taxpayer funded lawyers to illegal immigrants and gives billions to radical open borders groups,” he said on social media.
By Monday morning, at least 15 Senate Republicans and three Senate Democrats had made it clear they would oppose the bill, raising questions about whether Mr. Schumer and Mr. McConnell would be able to deliver the 60 votes necessary for passage.
“Make no mistake, a gauntlet has been thrown and America needs to pick it up,” Mr. McConnell said on Monday afternoon of sending critical funding to Ukraine.
In an unusual turn that underscored the Republican divide, a Senate G.O.P. leadership aide who insisted on anonymity circulated a point-by-point rebuttal on Monday evening to House Republican leaders’ statement criticizing the bill.
But later, in a private meeting with Republicans, Mr. McConnell recommended that they vote no on Wednesday in a bid to force Democrats to allow them to propose changes to the bill, according to people familiar with his comments who described them on the condition of anonymity. And he did nothing to try to persuade his colleagues not to oppose the measure, bowing to an increasingly evident reality.
In public, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican who had joined Mr. McConnell in pressing for the bipartisan deal, was noncommittal, suggesting that members of his party might be reluctant to support a measure being criticized as too weak if it could not become law.
“People want a result,” he told reporters. “They want an outcome if we’re going to go through this process.”
Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, who served as the lead Republican negotiator on the border deal, could not mask his frustration with his own party as he sought to explain the final product that was released after more than three months of daily negotiations. The same Republicans who complained that they needed more time to read through the bill, Mr. Lankford vented, were rushing to denounce it on social media.
“Are we, as Republicans, going to have press conferences and complain the border is bad and then intentionally leave it open after the worst month in American history in December?” he said on “Fox & Friends.”
The answer was shaping up to be a clear yes. And by late Monday night, even he was refusing to say whether he would vote to allow his package to advance.
Some progressive senators also said the deal missed the mark.
Senator Alex Padilla of California, who is Hispanic, condemned the bill for failing to provide relief for Dreamers and making it more difficult for migrants to be granted asylum. He lamented that not a single member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus was included in the negotiations.
“While bipartisanship requires political compromise, it does not require compromising our nation’s core values,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the president and chief executive of Global Refuge, calling the bill an abandonment of “our legal and moral obligations to people seeking refuge.”
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, indicated in a statement that he was holding his nose while supporting the bill, in large part because the future and fate of Europe were tied up in the mix.
“The bipartisan agreement may help, but nothing short of comprehensive reform will truly solve this problem,” he said in a carefully worded statement. On the Senate floor, he bemoaned the fact that the measure would provide no relief for Dreamers.
“Without congressional action, they spent each day in fear of being deported,” he said. “They grew up alongside our kids; many have gone on to serve our nation.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said on Monday evening that funding for Ukraine was not enough of a reason to back a bill that included policies that were not in line with its values.
“We cannot just throw up our hands and accept bad immigration policies that gut asylum, and could set back real bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform 10 to 15 years, for temporary aid,” Representative Nanette Barragán of California, the chairwoman of the caucus, said in a statement.
Karoun Demirjian contributed reporting.