The Senate cleared a couple procedural hurdles on Feb. 12, nearing passage of a bill that would provide aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.
A foreign aid package to fund Ukraine and Israel cleared three procedural hurdles on Feb. 12, setting the bill up for a final floor vote later this week.
The $95.3 billion bill would provide more than $61 billion in assistance to Ukraine, $14 billion to Israel in its war against Hamas, and $4.83 billion for Indo-Pacific partners, including Taiwan, to counter communist China’s aggression.
It has attracted opposition from some conservative Republicans who say the U.S.–Mexico border should be secured before funds are given to overseas partners.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), who is staunchly opposed to the measure, sought for those rules to be enforced in what was apparently a Hail Mary to stall the bill.
The second vote to proceed with the bill was 96-33. A simple majority was required.
This vote allowed the text of the bill to replace the original text of the bill that consisted of unrelated material. This is called a shell bill, which allows for a faster process on passing legislation in the Senate. The new text is what is called a substitute amendment.
The third vote was 66-33. Sixty votes were needed for this vote to succeed.
The vote was to invoke cloture on the amended bill. The Senate will move to debate the measure with a final vote expected on Feb. 14.
The development comes after the Senate last week failed to proceed with a $118 billion bill that would have provided that foreign aid in addition to enacting border security and immigration reforms. It was blocked by all but four Republicans, as well as four Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with the Democrats.
Republicans had argued that the border measures did not go far enough to stem the flow of illegal immigration at the southern border.
The new foreign aid package already has opposition from some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, who, over the weekend, called for all foreign aid to be structured as loans.
In a Senate floor speech on Feb. 12, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted the measure.
“Open the champagne, pop the cork! The Senate Democrat leader and the Republican leader are on their way to Kyiv! They’re taking your money to Kyiv!” he said, taking shots at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “I don’t know if it’ll be cash in pallets, but they’re taking your money to Kyiv.”
However, Mr. Schumer remarked in a floor speech on Feb. 12 that those who are against the bill are “modern-day Neville Chamberlains,” a reference to the late British prime minister who appeased Adolf Hitler with a deal that gave Germany the Sudetenland in exchange for not taking the rest of Czechoslovakia. Hitler would violate the 1938 Munich Agreement by occupying all of Czechoslovakia, eventually leading up to the 1939 invasion of Poland and the start of World War II.
“We have taken numerous procedural votes that prove beyond doubt that there’s strong support behind this bill,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s time to finish the job and get this critical bill passed.”
Nonetheless, the bill appears dead on arrival in the House as Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) blasted it and said that the lower congressional chamber “will have to continue to work its own will” in getting border measures in the bill.
The House failed last week to pass a bill to give $17.6 billion to Israel as it required a two-thirds majority to pass, given it was brought up under an extradited process. Most Democrats voted against the measure, while most Republicans voted in favor of it.