The Senate Tuesday passed a $96 billion bipartisan aid package for Ukraine and Israel but House Republicans are digging in their heels to scuttle the bill.
The measure passed by an overwhelming 70-29 vote with a healthy 22 Republicans supporting the desperately needed assistance for the staunch U.S. ally that has battled a Russian invasion for going on two years now.
“With this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waiver, will not falter, will not fail,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who worked closely with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the legislation.
“For us in Ukraine, continued U.S. assistance helps to save human lives from Russian terror,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on social media.
The bill enjoys similar wide backing in the House but Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson opposes it because only about half his right-wing caucus supports helping Ukraine fend off Russian aggression.
Johnson says he won’t allow the bill to come up for a vote, a tactic that is supported by de facto party leader former President Trump.
Similar threats killed an earlier version of the Senate bill that included a GOP-friendly bipartisan compromise border security package as well.
But it’s unclear if Republican lawmakers will remain as united in opposition to the so-called clean foreign aid bill because it would not help resolve the border crisis and potentially give a boost to President Joe Biden as the previous measure did.
McConnell has made Ukraine his top priority in recent months, and was resolute in the face of considerable pushback from his own GOP conference.
“History settles every account,” McConnell said. “And today … history will record that the Senate did not blink.”
Despite the happy talk from both sides of the partisan aisle and the Atlantic, the package is far from a done deal.
Johnson says Ukraine may never get additional aid in its fight to repel the invasion of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s role in became even more apparent when the MAGA leader over the weekend invited Putin to invade America’s Western allies because he says they do not spend enough on their own defense.
Besides helping Ukraine, the law would provide $14 billion for Israel’s war with Hamas, $8 billion for Taiwan and partners in the Indo-Pacific to counter China, and $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in war-torn Gaza.
Progressive lawmakers have objected to sending offensive weapons to Israel amid accusations of war crimes against the Palestinians. Three of them voted against the bill.
The bill’s passage followed almost five months of torturous negotiations over an expansive bill that would have paired the foreign aid with an overhaul of border and asylum policies, which would have directly impacted New York City that’s now in the throes of a migrant crisis.
It was Republicans who demanded the trade-off, saying the surge of migration into the United States had to be addressed alongside the security of allies.
But once Democrats agreed to do just that, Trump rallied Republicans to flip flop and oppose it because he believed easing the border crisis could help Biden beat him in the fall election.
After Trump killed the combined border and foreign aid bill, Senate leaders agreed to push forward with passing the foreign aid package alone — as Democrats originally planned.