On February 7, the US Senate voted to reject a motion to proceed on a $118.3 billion national security supplemental aid package included within the text of H.R.815 – RELIEVE Act (Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency Act) that included funds for Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific region partners, and border security measures. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined 49 Republicans to hand them a 50 to 49 victory. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) didn’t vote on the measure.
The following day, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) released the text of an updated supplemental aid package, known as a standalone measure as the 2024 National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act (NSSAA). She urged her fellow lawmakers to “live up” to America’s commitment to global allies and advance the bill.
Senate Advances Bill Providing Aid to Ukraine
Murry gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor defending the chamber’s newest version of the NSSAA. She said it never should have taken “this long” to advance a measure providing aid that “so many of us” say is necessary.
Murray conceded that passing the bill in the Senate and House would require “more work,” adding that Congress doesn’t “have a minute to waste.” She concluded her remarks by warning that lawmakers’ response to this moment in history would shape “America’s future on the global stage” and could “define” the global “balance of power.”
Senators voted to advance the NSSAA, 67 yeas to 32 nays. Seventeen Republicans and independent Senators Angus King (ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) joined all 48 Democrats. Sanders was the only Democratic Conference member to defect and vote against the measure.
Critical Changes to Previous National Defense Measure
The new version of the NSSAA remains substantially unchanged from the previous one, which was rejected on February 7. However, it did eliminate or reduce some spending in three areas.
- Elimination of $20.23 billion allocated to address operational needs at the nation’s borders
- Reduced aid to civilians in the West Bank and Gaza from $10 billion to $9.15 billion
- Lowered aid to support Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion from $2.33 billion to $481 million. It also stripped all funding for “other refugees fleeing persecution”
The measure left five funding measures fully intact.
- $60.06 billion to Ukraine to support its defense
- $14.1 billion in security aid for Israel
- $4.83 billion to deter Chinese aggression and support key Indo-Pacific partners
- $2.44 billion to support the US Central Command’s efforts in the Red Sea
- $400 million to help places of worship and non-profit groups enhance security measures
The bill also eliminated the border policy changes previously negotiated by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Sinema. Additionally, it left the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act in H.R.815, a bipartisan measure to reduce the flood of that deadly opioid drug across the nation’s southern border.
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