Politics

Senate overwhelmingly passes long-delayed Ukraine and Israel aid

The Senate sent a $95 billion foreign aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan to the president’s desk Tuesday — a long-awaited result after months of congressional haggling over whether to provide funding for the allies.

The bill also included a provision that would require TikTok’s parent company to either sell the social media app or face a ban, as well as a measure that permits selling off Russian oligarch assets.

Though the legislation passed with bipartisan support, 79-18, the political ramifications will be felt throughout the Capitol. It’s a win for Democrats and defense-focused Republicans on the critical issue of Ukraine aid, but a swath of conservatives are incensed with party leadership for allowing the bill through.

Some opponents of the bill attempted to delay passage on Tuesday with floor speeches, but senators were only permitted up to an hour each to speak. And there weren’t that many senators eager to participate — particularly given that this week was originally slated to be a recess week, and many members were ready to get home.

Adding to the woes of Ukraine-aid critics, Republican support for this round of foreign aid increased compared to a few months ago. When the Senate voted on a similar deal in February, it passed 70-29.

That earlier version of the bill stalled in the House. But Speaker Mike Johnson introduced his own rendition of the legislation, which segmented aid for each ally into individual votes before lumping the bills back together into a single package for the Senate.

As Congress balked for months, Ukraine began fading in its war with Russia and worries grew that the delay in assistance was costing the country on the battlefield.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he believes that “when it became clear that Russia could be at Poland’s border in a year, if we didn’t help, it started changing things.”

“It strengthened the resolve of the mainstream Republicans,” he added.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for his part, has remained a stalwart supporter of funding Israel and Ukraine despite resistance from within his own conference. He acknowledged Tuesday there had been some difficulty in garnering Republican support.

Still, he didn’t mince words in his applause for the outcome.

“This was a really, really big day for America and for the rest of the world that actually elects their leaders,” McConnell told POLITICO. “When you’ve been here as long as I have, you’ve had a few big moments. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger one than this in terms of the level of importance to our own country and to our place in the world.”

Despite their failure to block the legislation, Ukraine aid critics insisted they’d won on another front: making it clear that other nations couldn’t keep expecting easy checks from the U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) after the vote told reporters, “We were able to make it pretty clear to Europe and the rest of the world that America can’t write blank checks indefinitely.”

And, to that point, it’s unclear what Congress’ role in Ukraine and Israel is going forward. Democrats have voiced growing concerns about humanitarian conditions in Gaza, and some senators had even warned before the vote that Israel aid could have a tough time in the Senate this go around because of Democratic resistance.

That forecasted holdup didn’t come to fruition. But with Congress done with its share of funding, Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who voted against final passage of the bill, suggested the responsibility now falls on the White House.

“My hope is that the president will continue to be very assertive” in pushing for limited civilian casualties, Welch told reporters.

Schumer after the vote said he’s confident the White House will do everything it can to ensure Gaza humanitarian aid “gets to the people in need as quickly as possible.”

And with both Israel and Ukraine mired in conflicts that have no apparent immediate solution, questions linger on what happens the next time Ukraine, Israel or another American ally needs assistance. Schumer said it is a very “full” package but would not forecast when it might run out.

Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who voted for the package, acknowledged that eventually Congress will be faced with the task of foreign aid again. He suggested that problem will come next year — and that then, things might go a little more smoothly.

“Another thing that’ll be going for us is it will be a nonpolitical year,” Mullin said. “And things seem to happen a little bit easier when people aren’t trying to save themselves.”

The Senate sent a $95 billion foreign aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan to the president’s desk Tuesday — a long-awaited result after months of congressional haggling over whether to provide funding for the allies.
The bill also included a provision that would require TikTok’s parent company to either sell the social media app or face a ban, as well as a measure that permits selling off Russian oligarch assets.
Though the legislation passed with bipartisan support, 79-18, the political ramifications will be felt throughout the Capitol. It’s a win for Democrats and defense-focused Republicans on the critical issue of Ukraine aid, but a swath of conservatives are incensed with party leadership for allowing the bill through.
Some opponents of the bill attempted to delay passage on Tuesday with floor speeches, but senators were only permitted up to an hour each to speak. And there weren’t that many senators eager to participate — particularly given that this week was originally slated to be a recess week, and many members were ready to get home.
Adding to the woes of Ukraine-aid critics, Republican support for this round of foreign aid increased compared to a few months ago. When the Senate voted on a similar deal in February, it passed 70-29.
That earlier version of the bill stalled in the House. But Speaker Mike Johnson introduced his own rendition of the legislation, which segmented aid for each ally into individual votes before lumping the bills back together into a single package for the Senate.
As Congress balked for months, Ukraine began fading in its war with Russia and worries grew that the delay in assistance was costing the country on the battlefield.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he believes that “when it became clear that Russia could be at Poland’s border in a year, if we didn’t help, it started changing things.”
“It strengthened the resolve of the mainstream Republicans,” he added.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for his part, has remained a stalwart supporter of funding Israel and Ukraine despite resistance from within his own conference. He acknowledged Tuesday there had been some difficulty in garnering Republican support.
Still, he didn’t mince words in his applause for the outcome.
“This was a really, really big day for America and for the rest of the world that actually elects their leaders,” McConnell told POLITICO. “When you’ve been here as long as I have, you’ve had a few big moments. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger one than this in terms of the level of importance to our own country and to our place in the world.”
Despite their failure to block the legislation, Ukraine aid critics insisted they’d won on another front: making it clear that other nations couldn’t keep expecting easy checks from the U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) after the vote told reporters, “We were able to make it pretty clear to Europe and the rest of the world that America can’t write blank checks indefinitely.”
And, to that point, it’s unclear what Congress’ role in Ukraine and Israel is going forward. Democrats have voiced growing concerns about humanitarian conditions in Gaza, and some senators had even warned before the vote that Israel aid could have a tough time in the Senate this go around because of Democratic resistance.
That forecasted holdup didn’t come to fruition. But with Congress done with its share of funding, Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who voted against final passage of the bill, suggested the responsibility now falls on the White House.
“My hope is that the president will continue to be very assertive” in pushing for limited civilian casualties, Welch told reporters.
Schumer after the vote said he’s confident the White House will do everything it can to ensure Gaza humanitarian aid “gets to the people in need as quickly as possible.”
And with both Israel and Ukraine mired in conflicts that have no apparent immediate solution, questions linger on what happens the next time Ukraine, Israel or another American ally needs assistance. Schumer said it is a very “full” package but would not forecast when it might run out.
Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who voted for the package, acknowledged that eventually Congress will be faced with the task of foreign aid again. He suggested that problem will come next year — and that then, things might go a little more smoothly.
“Another thing that’ll be going for us is it will be a nonpolitical year,” Mullin said. “And things seem to happen a little bit easier when people aren’t trying to save themselves.”  

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