U.S. Senate sends $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan to House

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly early Tuesday to approve a $95
billion emergency spending package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The measure now goes to the U.S. House, where Speaker Mike Johnson
hasn’t committed to putting the bill on the floor for debate and votes
amid opposition to the military and humanitarian assistance from some in
the right flank of his conference.

The Senate’s 70-29 vote
— which followed an overnight session where GOP senators opposed to the
bill spoke most of the night — shows it has broad bipartisan support in
at least one chamber of Congress, though it’ll need House approval
before it can go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, released a statement late Monday
evening indicating he doesn’t approve of the Senate bill in part because
it does not contain any immigration provisions, after Senate
Republicans tanked a bipartisan border security deal that was also opposed by Johnson and House GOP leaders.

The measure now goes to the U.S. House, where Speaker Mike Johnson
hasn’t committed to putting the bill on the floor for debate and votes
amid opposition to the military and humanitarian assistance from some in
the right flank of his conference.

The Senate’s 70-29 vote
— which followed an overnight session where GOP senators opposed to the
bill spoke most of the night — shows it has broad bipartisan support in
at least one chamber of Congress, though it’ll need House approval
before it can go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, released a statement late Monday
evening indicating he doesn’t approve of the Senate bill in part because
it does not contain any immigration provisions, after Senate
Republicans tanked a bipartisan border security deal that was also opposed by Johnson and House GOP leaders.

“The mandate of national security supplemental legislation was to
secure America’s own border before sending additional foreign aid around
the world. It is what the American people demand and deserve,” Johnson
said.

“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,” he added. “America deserves better
than the Senate’s status quo.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, supported the bill, saying it is in the best interest of U.S. national security.

“Our adversaries want America to decide that reinforcing allies and
partners is not in our interest, and that investing in strategic
competition is not worth it,” McConnell said. “They want us to take
hard-earned credibility and light it on fire.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called on
Johnson to put the bill up for a vote in that chamber and said he hoped
to talk “directly” with the speaker about the legislation.

“My message is, this is a rare moment where history is looking upon
the United States and seeing if we will stand up for our values, stand
up to bullies like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and do the right
thing,” Schumer said. “I will say to Speaker Johnson, I am confident
that there’s a large majority in the House who will vote for this bill.”

Republicans voting to approve the bill included Arkansas’ John
Boozman, West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy,
Maine’s Susan Collins, Texas’ John Cornyn, North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer,
Idaho’s Mike Crapo, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, North
Dakota’s John Hoeven, Louisiana’s John Kennedy, McConnell, Kansas’ Jerry
Moran, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Idaho’s Jim Risch, Utah’s Mitt Romney,
South Dakota’s Mike Rounds, Alaska’s Dan Sullivan, South Dakota’s John
Thune, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Mississippi’s Roger Wicker and
Indiana’s Todd Young.

Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders and
Vermont’s Peter Welch were the three Democrats who voted against
passage.

‘A strong message to Putin’ 

Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray, a Washington state
Democrat, said during debate the legislation is essential aid for U.S.
allies, who have “so much at stake.”

“By passing this bill, we will show our allies we stand by our word
and we will help them in their time of need. We will show dictators that
their flagrant attacks will not go unchecked and they cannot steamroll
our allies,” Murray said. “And we will show the world that American
leadership is still alive and well, and that we are still a strong
protector of democracy and provider of humanitarian aid.”

Maine’s Collins, the top Republican on the spending panel, urged her
fellow GOP senators to support the legislation, saying it would invest
heavily in the U.S. military and other countries that aid national
security interests.

“This bill focuses on fortifying our military, rebuilding our own
defense industrial base and strengthening and defending our partners and
allies,” Collins said.

“This legislation would send a strong message to Putin that his goal
of capturing free, democratic nations will not be allowed to succeed; it
would reassure our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, that
terrorists will not achieve their goal of wiping that nation off the
map; and it would counter ever-growing Chinese aggression,” Collins
added.

Senators, she said, should “recognize the perilous times in which we
are living and vote for this absolutely essential national security
bill.”

Some Republicans still demand border changes

Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn argued that Congress
should deal with the “crisis” at the southern border before sending
assistance to allies at war.

Republicans late last year insisted that in order for their party to
approve additional military assistance, Congress must address
immigration policy and border security.

A group of three senators — Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford,
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy and Arizona independent Sen.
Kyrsten Sinema — spent months brokering a deal that was then blocked by nearly all GOP senators.

The stalemate led McConnell to call on the Senate to pass a stand-alone bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Blackburn rebuked her colleagues for not renegotiating that bipartisan border security and immigration deal.

“There are some of us who have said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, we’ve got
these problems at our southern border and we really can’t help others
until we deal with the crisis at our southern border,’” Blackburn said.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee opposed approving the foreign
assistance package before Congress can make changes to border security
and immigration policy.

“Republicans stand for border security and the rule of law,” Lee
said. “Regardless of where they come down on Ukraine aid, they should
realize that we’re forfeiting that leverage, that bargaining power
tonight if we vote for this.”

Lee also appeared to oppose additional aid to Ukraine, saying it wouldn’t help Ukrainians.

“We’re not helping any group of people whenever we prolong a war in
which they’re involved,” Lee said. “It doesn’t help the Ukrainian people
to prolong their suffering in this war.”

Assistance for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

The bill would provide Ukraine with $60 billion in assistance that
would predominantly go to the U.S. departments of Defense and State, as
well as the U.S. Agency for International Development.

An additional $14 billion would provide military assistance to Israel that would flow through the U.S. Defense Department.

More than $9 billion would go to humanitarian assistance, including
emergency water, food and shelter for civilians in Gaza, Ukraine and
other conflict zones around the world.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations throughout
much of the Middle East, would get $2.4 billion to address the attacks
on shipping vessels and military ships in the Red Sea, according to a summary of the bill.

U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, would
receive $4.8 billion in funding through the U.S. Defense Department.

The legislation includes $8 million for the Defense Department
inspector general and $25 million for the inspectors general offices for
the State Department and USAID.

The package also includes the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence, or the FEND Off Fentanyl Act.The bipartisan bill,
sponsored by Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and South Carolina
Republican Sen. Tim Scott, would allow the U.S. “to apply economic and
other financial sanctions to those who engage in the international
trafficking of fentanyl, fentanyl precursors, or other related opioids
to protect the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the
United States.”