On Thursday, the U.S. Senate made progress towards the ultimate approval of a $95.34 billion bill encompassing assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. This came after Republicans obstructed a compromise legislation that incorporated a much-desired overhaul of immigration policy. The senators supported a procedural motion with a vote of 67-32, surpassing the 60-vote threshold required to move the bill forward. Despite this advancement, the bill still faces several obstacles before final approval.
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to continue pushing the measure, which he called the best chance for replenishing the nearly depleted U.S. military aid package for Ukraine, as well as helping Israel and other allies at a time when Russia appears more assertive on the world stage. “This is about the United States showing strength in the face of a rising threat to our allies,” he said. “If the House doesn’t take up and pass this, there will be real consequences both in terms of our credibility on the world stage and our relationship with Ukraine.”
Schumer sought to salvage $60 billion for Ukraine and roughly $35 billion for Israel, other allies, and national security priorities after Republicans at a conference meeting floated dropping border policies from the package but later backed away. The move created a new debate over the measures, but this time with a larger group of GOP lawmakers voicing opposition to coupling foreign aid with an immigration reform plan.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate have criticized the idea of tying a bipartisan immigration deal to foreign aid, particularly as former President Donald Trump and many of his fellow Republicans campaign for the 2020 presidential nomination. And a strong faction of isolationist-leaning Republicans has signaled they will oppose new funding for Ukraine, which is viewed as wasteful by some in the party.
Continuing resolutions allowing the government to avoid shutdowns have become commonplace on Capitol Hill. The Capitol is divided by partisan differences and must soon pass its next short-term budget for the current fiscal year. That money is due to run out in early March, and the new aid measure could give Senate Democrats a political tool for resolving their disputes with their GOP colleagues and avoiding another government shutdown.
The foreign aid measures include $2 billion for a regional assistance fund to support the United States’ global leadership role, including countering Russian aggression in Ukraine, supporting NATO allies, and investing in defense manufacturing. Also included are $1.5 billion to help allies affected by conflict and crisis and $7.6 billion to support the State Department and USAID programs.