US Senate forges ahead on ‘enormously high stakes’ Ukraine, Israel aid

US Senate forges ahead on ‘enormously high stakes’ Ukraine, Israel aid

US Senate forges ahead on ‘enormously high stakes’ Ukraine, Israel aid By Reuters

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Published Feb 12, 2024 06:04AM ET
Updated Feb 12, 2024 03:42PM ET

© Reuters. Tourists walk near the U.S. Capitol as the Senate votes to begin work on a bill that includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard

By Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Monday will attempt to steer a $95.34 billion package containing aid for Ukraine and Israel to passage this week following months of delays, even as it lacked any guarantee that House of Representatives Republicans will support it.

The measure cleared an important procedural hurdle a day earlier in a 67-27 vote, with the support of 18 of the chamber’s 49 Republicans. Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday was aiming to push it through two more procedural hurdles in order to put it on a path to passing on Wednesday.

“These are enormously high stakes of the national security package. Our security, our values, our democracy. It’s a down payment for the survival of Western democracy and the survival of Western values,” Schumer said on Monday after rare back-to-back Saturday and Sunday Senate sessions to work on the bill.

“The entire world is going to remember what the Senate does in the next few days,” he said.

Democratic President Joe Biden has been urging Congress to hurry new aid to Ukraine and U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, for months. Following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel he also requested funds for the U.S. ally, along with humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

Ukrainian officials have warned of weapons shortages at a time when Russia is pressing ahead with renewed attacks.

But in order to become law the bill must pass the House as well as the Senate, and the House has not passed any major aid for Ukraine since Republicans took control of the chamber in January 2023.

House Speaker Mike Johnson voted against earlier Ukraine aid bills when Democrats held a House majority and has not committed to allowing a vote on the current measure even if it passes the Senate.


Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said there had still been no deal between Democrats and Republicans on possible amendments to the bill by mid-day Monday.

“Unless objections are withdrawn, it’s going to be very difficult to have the robust amendment process that most of us want to have,” she said in the Senate.

For months, Republicans had insisted that any additional aid to Israel and Ukraine must also address the high numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S-Mexico border.

But last week, at the urging of former President Donald Trump, most Senate Republicans voted to kill a bipartisan security bill that had been crafted over four months and was seen as the most significant border security and immigration reform effort in at least a decade.

The House instead this week is expected to try again to impeach Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, the top official responsible for the border.

Schumer stripped the border security language from the bill last week.

Some Republican senators, including those most closely allied with Trump, have called for yet another overhaul of the bill.

Senator Lindsey Graham said portions of the U.S. aid should be converted into loans and only “lethal aid,” not humanitarian aid, be included in the package. And he called for U.S. border security provisions, although so far his party has not unveiled border-related amendments.

US Senate forges ahead on ‘enormously high stakes’ Ukraine, Israel aid

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