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Senate approves Ukraine, Israel foreign aid package


Washington- The Senate approved a major foreign aid package Tuesday, as a bipartisan group of senators pushed long-delayed legislation across the finish line after an all-night session. But new, strong opposition from House Speaker Mike Johnson has called into question the bill’s prospects in the lower chamber.

The vote on final adoption early Tuesday morning of the $95 billion aid plan for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific was 70 in favor to 29 against. The Upper House has overcome a number of procedural hurdles in recent days, remaining in Washington during the weekend despite a planned break which was to begin this week.

“It’s been a long night, a long weekend and long months, but a new day is here and our efforts are well worth it. Today we witnessed one of the most historic and important bills ever passed by the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “With this bill of law, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waver, will not falter, will not fail.”

The vote comes months after the White House requested additional funding, as Republicans demanded that foreign aid be tied to enhanced border security measures. But when a much sought-after bipartisan border security agreement was released last week, then quickly rejected after former President Donald Trump intervened, the deal’s prospects in Congress faded. But soon after, Schumer pushed for the aid package to be implemented without the border provisions.

For a short time, the foreign aid program itself appeared threatened in the Senate by Republican Party opposition. Some Republicans wanted the opportunity to amend the bill to include border security provisions, even though they had rejected the bipartisan agreement days earlier. And Trump has also spoken out against the legislation in recent days, worsening his prospects with allies. But enough Republicans and moderate Democrats ultimately came together to ensure the bill passed.

Yet getting the package approved became a daunting task this week as Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, slowed the bill’s march toward passage at every opportunity. Paul was joined by a group of Senate Republicans who gave speeches in opposition to delaying passage of the bill late Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

Paul took to the stage Monday to begin filibustering the bill, warning in a lengthy speech that “they will take the $60 billion to Kiev, break the champagne,” as the state border United and Mexico are experiencing an influx of migration.

“We have a disaster on our southern border and the leading Republicans and Democrats – there is no difference, they are on the same team – they will be on the same plane to kyiv,” Paul said.

Nonetheless, most of his Senate colleagues ultimately supported the bill, with defense hawks warning of the national security implications if the United States failed to support its allies.

“The Senate understands America’s national security responsibilities and will not neglect them,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement after the vote. “History settles all accounts. And today, when it comes to the value of American leadership and strength, history will record that the Senate did not blink.”

But even with the Upper House’s approval, the bill’s prospects in the House dimmed Monday evening.

How would the foreign aid package play out in the House?

It remains to be seen whether the House will take up a foreign aid bill passed by the Senate. Although House Speaker Mike Johnson was noncommittal last week when asked whether the lower chamber would vote on the bill, he clarified his position Monday evening. Hours before the vote, he issued a statement laden with criticism of the aid package, while suggesting the House would not consider the bill.

“The mandate of the additional national security legislation was to secure the U.S. border before sending additional foreign aid across the world,” Johnson said in the statement. “Now, absent a single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own way on these important issues.”

The calculation for Johnson, who took the reins of the chamber and its slim Republican majority at the end of October, seems complicated. Although there is a group of moderates in the House willing to support the foreign aid bill, among many House conservatives, additional aid to Ukraine is a nonstarter. And some House progressives might feel the same way about additional aid to Israel.

House leaders attempted to approve autonomous Israeli aid in a vote last week that required support from two-thirds of the chamber under suspension of the rules. But there hasn’t been enough support for the move, complicating the attempt to separate Israeli aid — a high priority for House Republicans — from the broader foreign aid program.

If Johnson ultimately decides not to introduce the foreign aid plan, it remains possible that Democrats and some moderate Republicans could force a vote with a discharge petition. The idea appeared to gain traction in recent days, but the maneuver would be cumbersome and run counter to GOP leaders, with no guarantee of success.



Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.cbsnews.com

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