U.S. Senate passes $95 billion military aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan after rare all-night session

The Senate early Tuesday passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, pushing ahead after months of difficult negotiations and amid growing political divisions in the Republican Party over the role of the United States abroad, News.az  reports citing Time.

The vote came after a small group of Republicans opposed to the $60 billion for Ukraine held the Senate floor through the night, using the final hours of debate to argue that the U.S. should focus on its own problems before sending more money overseas. But 22 Republicans voted with nearly all Democrats to pass the package 70-29, with supporters arguing that abandoning Ukraine could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and threaten national security across the globe.

“With this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waiver, will not falter, will not fail,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who worked closely with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the legislation.

The bill’s passage through the Senate was a welcome sign for Ukraine amid critical shortages on the battlefield.

Yet the package faces a deeply uncertain future in the House, where hardline Republicans aligned with former President Donald Trump — the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, and a critic of support for Ukraine — oppose the legislation.

Speaker Mike Johnson cast new doubt on the package in a statement Monday evening, making clear that it could be weeks or months before Congress sends the legislation to President Joe Biden's desk — if at all.

Still, the vote was a win for both Senate leaders. Schumer noted the strong bipartisan support and projected that if the House speaker brings it forward it would have the same strong support in that chamber. McConnell has made Ukraine his top priority in recent months, and was resolute in the face of considerable pushback from his own GOP conference.

Speaking directly to his detractors in a floor speech on Sunday, McConnell said that “the eyes of the world” were on the U.S. Senate.

“Will we give those who wish us harm more reason to question our resolve, or will we recommit to exercising American strength?” McConnell asked.

Dollars provided by the legislation would purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, including munitions and air defense systems that authorities say are desperately needed as Russia batters the country. It also includes $8 billion for the government in Kyiv and other assistance.

“For us in Ukraine, continued US assistance helps to save human lives from Russian terror,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on social media. “It means that life will continue in our cities and will triumph over war.”

In addition, the legislation would provide $14 billion for Israel’s war with Hamas, $8 billion for Taiwan and partners in the Indo-Pacific to counter China, and $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza.

Two Democrats, Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Peter Welch of Vermont, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, voted against it. The progressive lawmakers have objected to sending offensive weaponry to Israel.

“I cannot in good conscience support sending billions of additional taxpayer dollars for Prime Minister Netanyahu's military campaign in Gaza,” Welch said. “It’s a campaign that has killed and wounded a shocking number of civilians. It’s created a massive humanitarian crisis.”

The bill’s passage followed almost five months of torturous negotiations over an expansive bill that would have paired the foreign aid with an overhaul of border and asylum policies. Republicans demanded the trade-off, saying the surge of migration into the United States had to be addressed alongside the security of allies.

But a bipartisan deal on border security fell apart just days after its unveiling, a head-spinning development that left negotiators deeply frustrated. Republicans declared the bill insufficient and blocked it on the Senate floor.

After the border bill collapsed, the two leaders abandoned the border provisions and pushed forward with passing the foreign aid package alone — as Democrats had originally intended.

While the slimmed-down foreign aid bill eventually won enough Republican support to pass, several GOP senators who had previously expressed support for Ukraine voted against it. The episode further exposed divisions in the party, made more public as Trump dug in and a handful of lawmakers openly called for McConnell to step down.

Sen. J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican, argued that the U.S. should step back from the conflict and help broker an end to it with Russia's Putin. He questioned the wisdom of continuing to fuel Ukraine’s defense when Putin appears committed to fighting for years.

You Might Also Like