Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Senate passes aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but its future is uncertain in the House

By 37ci3 Feb13,2024



WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday morning jointly passed a $95 billion national security package that includes critical aid for three key US allies — Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The vote was 70-29. Twenty-two Senate Republicans voted in favor of the package, while two Senate Democrats — Peter Welch of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon — and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, voted against.

Senate majority leader DN.Y. Chuck Schumer said after the vote that the Senate’s action would make Russian President Vladimir Putin regret “the day he questioned America’s resolve.”

“And we are sending a clear message of bipartisan resolve to our NATO allies,” Schumer said. “With our strong bipartisan support here in the Senate, I believe with this vote that if Speaker Johnson brings this bill to the floor of the House, it will pass with the same strong bipartisan support.”

The Senate’s vote to pass the foreign aid bill is a significant step forward after months of delays over whether tougher border security measures would be part of the package. Republicans have demanded that any bill authorizing aid to Ukraine also address the border crisis, but ultimately they killed a bpartist package related to these matters.

The emergency aid bill now faces an uncertain fate in the GOP-controlled House, where conservatives are pressing Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to block funds for war-torn Ukraine until America’s southern border is secure. they do. Hours before the vote, Johnson announced that the Senate would not take the security package to the House.

The Senate “should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would help end the ongoing disaster. Instead, the Senate foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country.” Johnson said in the statement.

“Now that the Senate has not received any border policy changes, the House will need to continue to work on its own accord on these important issues,” he said.

In an emotional speech and interview with reporters, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., pushed back against his GOP colleagues who opposed the bill, arguing that Washington should focus on protecting America’s borders before those of foreign allies.

“It’s not about caring about other people. I certainly care about the people in Ukraine and their freedom or the people in Israel and their suffering … But it’s primarily about protecting Americans,” Moran told reporters Monday evening.

“My point is that when we focus on the world, we focus on America.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked the senators for their support in a Telegram message and said that US aid “helps save people’s lives from Russian terrorism. This means that life will continue in our cities and war will prevail.”

“American aid brings a just peace to Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and the entire free world,” Zelensky said.

The Senate-passed package calls for $95.34 billion in aid, including $60.06 billion to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression; $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel; $9.15 billion in humanitarian aid to provide things like food, water, and medical aid to affected civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine, and other hot spots; and $4.83 billion to support allies in the Indo-Pacific and deter aggression by the Chinese government.

First, Senate leaders Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and James Lankford, R-Okla. and Kirsten Sinema, hoped to move forward with a foreign aid package that included tougher asylum and border security provisions negotiated by I- Ariz.

After former President Donald Trump and top House leaders objected to the bipartisan border deal, GOP leaders abandoned the strategy, saying it would not go far enough to stem the flow of illegal crossings along the southern border. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked a combined border and foreign aid package, forcing the administration to revert to Plan B: scrap the border deal and try to pass an aid package on its own.

But then Senate conservatives objected to moving forward with the aid package without adding border security provisions. Among them was Rand Paul, R-Ky., who tried to slow the new bill’s progress at every turn.

“I think we have to solve our problems here first,” Paul told reporters as he delayed the switch over the weekend. “A large portion of the Republican caucus said we should have border security on this bill, and our leadership gave in and the Leadership said, basically, the Ukrainian border is more important than our southern border, and I don’t agree with that.”

Kentucky’s other senator, Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime defense official, was on the other side of the debate. Speaking at a rare Senate hearing on Sunday, McConnell criticized those who opposed sending more aid to Ukraine at his conference, saying they “have the weakest and most short-sighted view of our commitments.”

“I know that in some circles it has become quite fashionable to ignore the global interests that we have as a global power. Complaining about the responsibilities of global leadership. A commitment that underpins the longest drought of conflict between major powers in human history is to be regretted,” McConnell said.

“This is nonsense for empty brains and there is no place for it in the US Senate,” he said.

Another of the 18 Republicans who voted to advance the $95 billion package over the weekend was Sen. Tom Tillis, RN.C. told reporters that withholding foreign aid would send a “bad message” to allies. Tillis said he has discussed with House members that if Johnson doesn’t call for a House vote on the package, Democratic and GOP backbenchers could bypass leadership and sign a document. dismissal petition pass it on.

“I’ve talked to some of my friends in Congress about the repeal petition,” and “I think there’s a general belief that we should do it,” Tillis said. “I hope this is something that Speaker Johnson will just take up because I believe you will have significant support for this in the Republican convention.”



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