Senate clears procedural hurdle on foreign aid package in rare Sunday vote

Washington — The Senate voted on Sunday to advance a foreign aid bill in a rare weekend session that puts the legislation on track for a vote on final passage later this week. But the slog toward approving the bill was expected to continue in the days ahead as some senators seek to slow its path forward. 

The procedural vote on the $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific was 67 in favor to 27 opposed on Sunday, as work on the bill was poised to bleed into the chamber two-week recess set to begin on Monday. 

“I can’t remember the last time the Senate was in session on Super Bowl Sunday,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said ahead of the vote on Sunday. “But as I’ve said all week long, we’re going to keep working on this bill until the job is done.”

The supplemental funding package that the White House requested has been stalled for months, after Republicans demanded that the foreign aid be tied to enhanced border security measures. A long-sought bipartisan border security agreement was released last week, and then quickly rejected after former President Donald Trump weighed in. And after the chamber rejected even moving forward with the supplemental with the border security elements in a floor vote last week, Schumer pushed to proceed with the aid package without the border provisions. 

Still, some Senate Republicans had reservations about moving forward with the aid package without border security provisions, while others rejected the package flat out, throwing the legislation’s path forward into question. And Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, pledged to slow down the bill’s proceedings at every opportunity. Even so, the chamber forged ahead with procedural votes on the legislation on Thursday and Friday

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference after a weekly policy luncheon with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference after a weekly policy luncheon with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and a negotiator in the border security talks, said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that although it’s “been hard to get Republican votes to support Ukraine, made very difficult by Donald Trump’s opposition to Ukraine funding,” he thinks the Senate will get this done in the coming days. 

Schumer noted ahead of the vote on Sunday that Democrats remain hopeful that they can reach an amendment agreement with Republicans, which would enable them to speed up the process to get to a vote on final passage. But he noted that either way, “it is essential we finished the work on this bill.”

The New York Democrat argued from the Senate floor ahead of the vote that it’s been years since the Senate has “taken up a standalone bill that so significantly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but the very security of Western democracy and our ideals.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, seemed to share the sentiment, saying ahead of the vote that “our partners don’t have the luxury of pretending that the world’s most dangerous aggressors are someone else’s problem. And neither do we.”

“We don’t wield American strength frivolously,” McConnell added. “We do it because it’s in our own interest. We equip our friends to face our shared adversaries, so we’re less likely to have to spend American lives to defeat them.”

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