The U.S. Senate
passed a $95 billion foreign aid package Tuesday morning in a 70-29 vote after its opponents, who filibustered throughout the night, exhausted their floor time.
Although the bill has cleared the chamber with the help of 18 Republican senators —
prompting thanks from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — its fate in Congress is anything but certain.
Whereas House Democrats have vowed to exhaust all options to see it pass, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) indicated he would ensure the legislation won’t survive, at least in its current form.
The bill’s passage
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
suggested that the foreign aid package serves as a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that America is committed “to our allies in NATO.”
“With this national security bill, the Senate keeps its word to Ukrainians in need of supplies, to innocent Palestinian civilians in need of relief, to Israelis in need of support, and to U.S. service members on patrol in the Indo-Pacific, the Red Sea, and around the world,”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), chief among the Republicans who championed the legislation, framed the foreign aid as a matter of ensuring that America’s allies have the wherewithal to fight so that American soldiers won’t have to.
“We haven’t equipped the brave people of Ukraine, Israel, or Taiwan with lethal capabilities in order to win philanthropic accolades,”
said the Senate Republican leader. “We do it because it is in our own interest. We equip our friends to face our shared adversaries so we’re less likely to have to spend American lives to defeat them.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who led the unsuccessful speaking filibuster,
suggested House Republicans “more conservative than the Republicans in this body” would ultimately kill the bill, which he characterized as a “middle finger to every working man and woman in America, to every struggling family.”
A previous version of the bill had a price tag of $118 billion and would have included $20.23 billion for American border security.
Recognizing that it would do little to secure the border — Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) had even
admitted that the “border never closes” under the proposed scheme — House Republicans underscored the bill would be dead on arrival, prompting he Senate to go back to the drawing board.
The Senate repackaged the foreign aid bill, such that it now allots no additional funds for Department of Homeland Security’s border security efforts. It does, however, earmark $60 billion for Ukraine and $14.1 billion for Israel. It also will fund $9.2 billion worth of humanitarian assistance, including to Gaza and the West Bank, and nearly $4.8 billion to American partners in the Indo-Pacific,
According to the Associated Press, the Ukraine-designated funds include $14 billion for the beleaguered nation to rearm itself through the purchase of weapons and munitions; $15 billion for military support services; $1.6 billion for Ukraine’s private sector; and $8 billion to fund the Ukrainian government. An additional $480 million is earmarked for Ukrainians displaced by the war.
Of the funds the Senate would like to see directed to Israel, $4 billion would go toward boosting the nation’s air defenses; $1.2 billion would bankroll its Iron Beam laser weapons system; and $2.5 billion would support American operations in the region.
Where Taiwan is concerned, the Senate would have it receive $1.9 billion to replenish its stock of weapons and $3.3 billion to build more American submarines.
A death in the House
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) indicated that the package will die a quick death in the House.
Hours ahead of the bill’s passage, Johnson
noted in a statement, “House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border.”
“The Senate did the right thing last week by rejecting the Ukraine-Taiwan-Gaza-Israel-Immigration legislation due to its insufficient border provisions, and it should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe,” wrote Johnson. “Instead, the Senate’s foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country.”
Johnson suggested that House Republicans would have to take matters into their own hands.
“Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” said Johnson. “America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) alternatively vowed to see the bill pass.
“The time has come for Extreme MAGA Republicans and the Pro-Putin Caucus to end the political stunts and come together in a bipartisan manner to support America’s national security priorities,” Jeffries
said in a statement last week.
“House Democrats are prepared to use every available legislative tool to make sure we get comprehensive national security legislation over the finish line,” added Jeffries.
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Author: Joseph MacKinnon
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