Ukraine, Israel Aid Bill Clears Critical Obstacle in Senate

Ukraine, Israel Aid Bill Clears Critical Obstacle in Senate

The Senate pushed a $95 billion emergency aid bill for Ukraine and Israel past a critical hurdle on Sunday, with a bipartisan vote that kept it on track to be adopted within a few days.

The vote was 67-27 to advance the package, which would dedicate $60.1 billion to help Kiev in its war against Russian aggression, send $14.1 billion to Israel for its war against Hamas and would finance nearly $10 billion in humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict. areas, while tackling threats to the Indo-Pacific region. In a rare Sunday session, 18 Republicans joined Democrats to advance the measure, which leaders hope the Senate will approve as early as Wednesday.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the eyes of the world are on the United States Senate,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and minority leader, said Sunday, calling on his colleagues to support the bill. He said America’s allies “don’t have the luxury of pretending that the world’s most dangerous aggressors are someone else’s problem, and neither do we.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and majority leader, said on the floor: “We are going to continue working on this bill until the job is done. He praised Republicans who supported the measure for “working in good faith to get this done” and said it was “critical” that the Senate pass the legislation. It has been decades, Mr. Schumer added, since Congress has considered a bill “that has such a significant impact not only on our national security, not only on the security of our allies, but also on the security of Western democracy and our ideals.”

But significant obstacles remain for the bill in the Republican-led House, where it faces fierce opposition fueled by former President Donald J. Trump’s “America First” stance.

The bipartisan approval in the Senate came in the face of fierce opposition from right-wing Republicans who spoke out against the measure, saying the United States should not continue sending tens of billions of dollars to boost security of Ukraine, in particular without first doing more to secure its own border with Mexico against a migratory influx. They continued to make that argument even after voting last week to reject a version of the aid bill that included a border crackdown, saying it didn’t go far enough.

Many Republican opponents also took issue with the billions of dollars the bill would spend on humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, as well as the $7.9 billion in economic aid intended to support national infrastructure in Ukraine in times of war.

“We spent four months promising the American people that we would secure our own border before focusing on other countries’ borders,” Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that he also had “serious problems”. concerns about the $19 billion in non-military aid there. (Mr. Cotton voted last week with most of his party to end the bipartisan border plan.)

Mr. Trump stoked the resistance, urging Republican lawmakers to reject the bipartisan border plan and encouraging Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, who promised the plan would be dead on arrival in their chamber. Mr. Trump has also made no secret of his opposition to funding Ukraine’s military campaign to repel a Russian invasion, a position he highlighted at a campaign rally on Saturday by suggesting that, if re-elected, he would not defend America’s allies against this invasion. threats from Moscow.

Mr. Trump described the United States’ role in preserving the democratic global order as strictly transactional, saying that if a NATO member failed to commit the funds necessary to strengthen the collective security of the organization, he would refuse to defend it against a Russian attack. Of Russia, he added: “I would encourage them to do what they want. »

NATO members are expected to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on military spending, a threshold that most of its member countries have not met.

Sunday’s action amounted to a rejection of Mr. Trump’s position by Democrats and a determined bloc of Republicans, led by Mr. McConnell, who argued that it was imperative that the United States continue to provide aid. militarily to Ukraine to send a signal to Ukraine. rest of the world’s dictators.

“Deterrence is not divisible; American credibility is not divisible,” Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, said Friday, adding: “You can’t say, ‘We’re going to be very strong in the Taiwan Strait, but you know, no “. problem in Ukraine. »

Democrats predicted that enough Republicans would ultimately reject Mr. Trump’s push for the Senate to pass the measure.

“It’s been difficult to get Republican votes to support Ukraine, made very difficult by Donald Trump’s opposition to funding Ukraine, but I think we’re going to get there,” Senator Christopher said on Sunday S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut. on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” warning that the United States is “on the brink of disaster” that could lead Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to threaten NATO allies if the Senate fails not to pass the bill.

The bipartisan coalition that has carried the bill so far will have to stick together for a few more votes before the Senate votes on approving the foreign aid plan and sending it to the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson faces threats from the right for trying to do so. oust him if he introduces a bill on aid to Ukraine.

The refusal of hard-liners in the House Republican Party is one reason why Republicans have been so insistent on being allowed to propose revisions to the measure before voting on its passage. The exercise of voting on partisan proposals, even if they are doomed to failure, is important, some Senate Republicans said, to signal to the Republican base where the party stands — and how impossible it would be to do pass all their demands through a democratic party. -Senate led.

Before the Senate voted to approve the bill on Sunday, all but four Senate Republicans voted for a measure that would have hindered its progress, to protest that senators were not given more opportunities to propose modifications to the bill. This was not successful.

If leaders reach agreement on what measures to consider, the Senate could sit for an extended period on Sunday and vote on those measures. Aides were making plans over the weekend to ensure senators could watch the Super Bowl, carrying extra televisions into the Capitol and ordering pizza, in case they were called upon to continue voting throughout the evening.

Republicans’ list of desired revisions to the foreign aid bill focuses primarily on the southwest border. It includes a measure mirroring a restrictive border control bill that the House passed last spring with only Republican votes.

Democrats have responded with their own calls for revision, such as a proposal by Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, to grant legal permanent residency to certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States while that they were children.

After the failure of the bipartisan immigration plan, neither side will likely be able to muster the 60 votes needed to add such provisions to the final bill.

Other changes Republicans have called for include a measure to remove economic aid to Ukraine from the bill. A subgroup of Democrats is also seeking votes to limit the impact of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, including a measure banning Palestinian civilians from being forcibly displaced.

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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