Senate passes controversial foreign aid bill to send billions to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan – LSB

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The Senate approved a supplemental $95 billion national security package to aid Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region after an arduous procedural process that ended early Tuesday morning.

The final vote was 70 votes to 29.

The supplemental package does not include any border security provisions, and several Republicans have spent hours — since the start of the weekend — en masse filibustering the package on the Senate floor. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, committed a filibuster on the bill for four hours on Saturday and continued into early Tuesday.

The package includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, and about $5 billion for the Indo-Pacific region. Democrats put the package to a vote after Republicans blocked the $118 billion package that also included several border and immigration provisions — negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators and Biden officials — last Wednesday.

The United States has already spent more than $100 billion in aid to Ukraine since it began its war against Russia in February 2022.

Republicans are trying to include a tough border security bill in the foreign aid package

Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left), Democrat of New York; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, pose for a photo before a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., ahead of a meeting on July 27, 2023. (Saul Loeb)

Many Republicans voted against the package and have spent the past few days filibustering the bill.

“This bill gives the finger of blame to American taxpayers,” Paul said on the floor before the final vote. “This law points the finger at all of America – this bill is Ukraine first, and America last.”

By Monday, several GOP senators were hoping for a breakthrough to hear their amendments, which mainly included tough border security provisions.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has introduced an identical amendment to the House immigration bill, H.R. 2, that would restore most Trump-era restrictions, hire additional Border Patrol officers and tighten screening of asylum claims.

Senate Republicans are preparing for a long fight over aid to Ukraine and Israel

Rand Paul during a Senate HEAD Committee hearing

Senator Rand Paul speaks during the federal coronavirus response hearing on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Joe Rydell)

Republican Sens. Roger Marshall, J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley were just a few of the other senators who spoke in opposition to the bill on Monday, continuing the filibuster. Meanwhile, Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Thom Tillis were just a few who urged their colleagues not to “delay” any further and pass the package.

Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas became emotional in a speech in support of the bill.

“I believe in America first, but unfortunately America first means we have to engage the world,” Moran said.

Democrats put the package to a vote after Republicans blocked the $118 billion package, which also included a slew of border and immigration provisions, on Wednesday. Republicans have previously said they would not agree to fund Ukraine unless the crowded southern border was secured first.

Unveiled last weekend, the foreign border aid package sparked an uproar from conservative opposition from Republicans who said the package would normalize historic levels of illegal immigration and continue detention and release. Conservatives joined some liberal Democrats in shutting down the bill, so Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer prepared a vote without the border package as a backup plan.

Pentagon finally runs out of money for Ukraine, urges 50 allies to continue supporting Kiev

Joe Biden with his arm around Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

US President Joe Biden welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, US, December 21, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had supported funding for Ukraine, but drew criticism from party members who urged lawmakers not to pass foreign aid without first securing the border.

“I know it has become fashionable in some circles to ignore the global interests that we have as a global power, and to bemoan the responsibilities of global leadership,” McConnell said in a Super Bowl speech on Sunday. “Lamenting the commitment that underpinned the longest drought in great power conflict in human history is the idle work of idle minds, and has no place in the United States Senate.”


Schumer said on Monday that the package is “a down payment for the survival of Western democracy and the survival of American values.”

White House Republicans requested the supplemental funding package in October, but it was rejected by Republicans who wanted more action to fix the record border crisis, including greater restrictions on asylum and restricting inbound releases. Negotiators worked for months and finally released their text on Sunday.

In addition to the foreign aid package, the failed border package included “emergency border authority” to authorize Article 42-style expulsions of migrants when migration levels exceed 5,000 per day over an average of seven days.

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