Senate advances foreign aid package after falling short on border deal

Washington — The Senate voted Thursday to advance a foreign aid package after support for the legislation with a bipartisan border security deal fell short a day earlier amid Republican opposition. But the path forward for the bill remained unclear as the conference squabbled over how to proceed. 

A procedural vote to move toward debate on the foreign aid bill was 67 in favor to 32 opposed. It required 60 votes to move forward.

The supplemental funding package would provide tens of billions of dollars in aid to U.S. allies, including Ukraine and Israel. Its consideration comes months after the White House initially made the supplemental funding request. At the time, Republicans insisted that the foreign aid package must be tied to enhanced border security measures. But after former President Donald Trump came out against the border security agreement reached by Senate negotiators, the party fell in line. 

Still, Senate Republicans reached an impasse for hours on Wednesday night, as the chamber was set to vote on the motion to move forward with the foreign aid bill, as some members sought an opportunity to add border security provisions back into the legislation with amendments.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina defense hawk who’s been a vocal advocate for Ukraine aid, voted against moving forward with the foreign aid bill on Thursday because he said  “we have not done all we can to secure our southern border.”

“We should not rush this process because Senators want to go on a break — it is too important,” Graham said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters at a news conference.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters at a news conference.  Kent Nishimura/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Senators are running up on a planned recess at the end of the week. But some members have suggested that they should remain in session through the weekend and into the break to resolve the foreign aid issue. Additional votes, including on amendments, appear likely before the chamber can weigh in on final passage and send the measure to the House. 

“If I were the majority leader, I’d keep us here until this is disposed of, period,” Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, told reporters. 

Should the package make its way through the Senate, whether the House would even consider it remains to be seen. House Speaker Mike Johnson was noncommittal on Wednesday, saying that the lower chamber would wait to see how things shake out in the Senate. 

“We’re allowing the process to play out and we’ll handle it as it is sent over,” Johnson told reporters. “We spend a lot of time on the House side awaiting the Senate’s action.” 

Alan He contributed reporting.

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