The U.S. Senate has cast a contentious vote, advancing a massive $95 billion foreign aid package that supports Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and Taiwan, but notably omits any provisions for bolstering U.S. border infrastructure.
In a 67-32 cloture vote, the Senate crossed party lines, with several RINO senators joining Democrats to move the foreign aid bill forward.
Republicans who joined Democrats in voting in favor include:
- Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
- Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
- Roger Wicker (R-MS)
- Todd Young (R-IN)
- Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
- John Kennedy (R-LA)
- John Thune (R-SD)
- Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
- Mitt Romney (R-UT)
- Joni Ernst (R-IA)
- Mike Rounds (R-SD)
- Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
- Jerry Moran (R-KS)
According to Capitol Hill correspondent Jamie Dupree, the bill is “likely to pass the Senate – maybe by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.”
According to CNN’s Manu Raju, Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) explicitly stated his support for the bill’s final passage, while Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is non-committal.
67-32, Senate breaks filibuster and opens up debate on $95.3 billion emergency aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Bill will be on the floor til next week sometime. Unclear if it would get 60 votes to advance to final passage.
GOP ‘yes’ votes just now: McConnell,…
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2024
This comes after the Republican Senators on Wednesday voted against advancing a compromised ‘border security bill’ that would have allocated more money to foreign countries while largely ignoring the US border.
Initially, the $118.28 billion national security supplemental package includes:
Foreign Aid Commitments:
- $60.06 billion in support for Ukraine amidst Russian aggression
- $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel
- $2.44 billion to address U.S. Central Command operations and conflict-related expenses in the Red Sea
- $10 billion in global humanitarian assistance
- $4.83 billion to support Indo-Pacific allies against Chinese encroachment
- $2.33 billion for displaced Ukrainians and other refugees worldwide
Border Security and Immigration Provisions:
- $20.23 billion for border operations, policy enforcement, and narcotics interdiction
- Introduction of the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act
- $400 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program
- Provisions for government intervention at varying thresholds of border encounters
- Work authorizations for illegal aliens
“A motion to proceed to the package failed by a vote of 49-50, with most of the Senate GOP conference voting against it. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), James Lankford (Okla.) and Mitt Romney (Utah) voted to advance the measure,” The Hill reported.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will be moving forward with a backup plan.
“Schumer told members of his caucus and the White House last week that if the Republicans scuttled the bipartisan border and supplemental agreement, he had prepared a plan to use the motion to reconsider to force Republicans to vote on the supplemental without border [reforms],” the aide said, according to The Hill.
In a statement to the media, Schumer said, “First, Republicans said they would only do Ukraine and Israel humanitarian aid with border. Then they said they would not do it with border. Well, we’re going to give them both options. We’ll take either one. We just hope they can come to yes on something.”
“We knew about a week ago when Trump mixed in and know wanted to be political and said he’d prefer chaos at the border because he thinks it helps him electorally. We knew that we might have to have a second option. So, I then called the White House and told my caucus that if, unfortunately, the big supplemental bill failed, we would do everything but border,” he added.
On Thursday, Schumer fulfilled his promise, and the Democratic-led Senate advanced a streamlined bill aimed at providing aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, but not the southern border that is currently invaded by illegal immigrants.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who drafted the bill, hailed the vote as a critical juncture for U.S. national security.
“President, it’s a very good thing that the Senate has just voted to proceed to the national security supplemental. This is a good first step. This bill is essential for our national security, for the security of our friends in Ukraine, in Israel, for humanitarian aid for innocent civilians in Gaza and for Taiwan. The bill also strengthens our military at a time when they need it most. Failure to pass this bill would only embolden autocrats like Putin and Xi who want nothing more than America’s decline,” Schumer said.
“Now that we are on the bill, we hope to reach an agreement with our Republican colleagues on amendments. Democrats have always been clear that we support having a fair and reasonable amendment process. During my time as majority leader, I have presided over more amendment votes than the Senate held in all four years of the previous administration. For the information of senators, we are going to keep working on this bill until the job is done.”
A little step in the right direction.
One day after Republicans in the chamber rejected a bipartisan border security and foreign aid bill, senators voted , by a final tally of 67- 32, to begin debate on a $95 billion aid package to fund Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian… pic.twitter.com/G3YXckL6BJ
— Yasmina (@yasminalombaert) February 8, 2024
NBC News reported:
The vote of 67-32 means the Senate can begin consideration of the $95 billion package, although the next steps are uncertain and it’s not yet clear it will the votes for final passage in the chamber.
While nearly all Democrats favor passage, Senate Republicans are divided on whether to approve the bill or filibuster it. They held a morning meeting to discuss their options and potential demands for amendments to wrap up passage speedily.
If the bill passes the Democratic-led Senate, it would go to the GOP-controlled House, where prospects are also uncertain. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., did not indicate on Wednesday whether he would allow a floor vote, saying, “We’ll see what the Senate does.”
Senators prefer to wrap up the aid package before a two-week recess is scheduled to begin next week. After that, Congress’s priority will be a government funding deadline in early March.
In a statement to Manu Raju of CNN, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the proposed legislation as being inferior to the existing laws. His stance underlines a fundamental dispute over national priorities, particularly in terms of border security.
Manu Raju wrote on X, “Rand Paul told me he will force the Senate to drag out the process on the $95 billon aid package. “I think we should stay here as long as it takes. If that takes a week or a month, I’ll force them to stay here to discuss why they think the border of Ukraine is more important than the U.S. border.” Paul voted to block the bill with the bipartisan border deal, arguing it was “worse” than current law Any one senator can object and force time-consuming votes.”
Rand Paul told me he will force the Senate to drag out the process on the $95 billon aid package. “I think we should stay here as long as it takes. If that takes a week or a month, I’ll force them to stay here to discuss why they think the border of Ukraine is more important than…
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2024