The US Senate approved early Tuesday a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of difficult negotiations and between growing political divisions in the Republican Party on the role of the United States abroad.
The vote was held after a small group of republicans who opposed the allocation of $60 billion to Ukraine took the floor all night, using the final hours of the debate to argue that the United States you should focus on your own problems before sending money abroad.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin speaks to the media at the start of a late-night session in the Senate. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
However, 22 Republicans voted with almost all Democrats to approve the plan by 70 votes in favor to 29. Supporters of the plan said abandoning Ukraine could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and threaten national security around the globe.
“With this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not falter, will not falter, will not fail,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who worked closely with Republican leader Mitch McConnell on the text.
Good news for Ukraine
The approval of the package in the Senate is good news for Ukraine facing a critical shortage on the battlefield.
However, the initiative faced an uncertain future in the House of Representativeswhere hardline Republicans supporters of former President Donald Trump — the favorite to obtain the Republican presidential nomination and critical of support for Ukraine — oppose the project.
The body of a Russian soldier lies next to a destroyed tank in Kharkov, Ukraine. Photo: Sergey Bobok / AFP
Spokesman Mike Johnson added to doubts about the proposal in a statement Monday night in which he made clear that It could be weeks or months before Congress sends the legislation to President Joe Biden's desk, if that happens.
Still, the vote It is a victory for the leaders of both parties in the Senate. McConnell has made Ukraine his top priority in recent months, and has held firm in the face of considerable pressure from his own caucus.
In a direct message to his critics in a speech on Sunday, McConnell said that “The eyes of the world” were on the Senate.
“Will we give those who want to hurt us more reason to doubt our resolve, or will we recommit to American force?” McConnell asked.
What would the funds be used for?
The dollars provided by the measure would serve to buy American-made defense equipment, such as ammunition and anti-aircraft systems that according to authorities are urgently needed in the face of Russian bombings over Ukraine. It also includes $8 billion for the government in kyiv and other forms of assistance.
“For us in Ukraine, continued US assistance helps us save human lives from Russian terror,” Zelensky said. Photo: AFP
“For us in Ukraine, continued assistance from the United States helps us save human lives from Russian terror,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on social media. “It assumes that life will continue in our cities and triumph over war.”
Help Israel, no
Additionally, the package would provide $14 billion for Israel's war with Hamas, $8 billion for Taiwan and partners in the Indo-Pacific to confront China, and $9.2 billion for humanitarian aid for Gaza.
Two Democrats, Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Peter Welch of Vermont, as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, they voted against. progressive legislators They have opposed sending offensive weapons to Israel.
“My conscience does not allow me to support sending billions of additional taxpayer dollars to Prime Minister Netanyahu's military campaign in Gaza,” Welch said. “It is a campaign that has killed and wounded a shocking number of civilians. “It has created a huge humanitarian crisis.”
The approval of the text took place after five months of rocky negotiations on a broad law that would have linked foreign aid to a reform of border and asylum policies. Republicans demanded that trade, saying the spike in immigration to the United States needed to be addressed along with the security of allies.
However, the bipartisan agreement on border security fell apart just a few days after its presentation, a dizzying turn of events that caused deep frustration among the negotiators. Republicans declared that the law was insufficient and they blocked it in the Senate.
After the failure of the border law, the two leaders abandoned the section on the border and promoted a package limited to foreign aid, as the Democrats intended from the beginning.
Although the smaller foreign aid bill ended up gaining enough Republican support to move forward, several Republican senators who had previously expressed support for Ukraine voted against it. The episode He highlighted the fractures in the partywhich have been left on the table at Trump's insistence, and a handful of lawmakers have openly called for McConnell's resignation.
With information from the Associated Press