Senate voting on foreign aid package after falling short on border deal

Washington — The Senate is taking a procedural vote Thursday on a foreign aid package that brought the chamber to a standstill Wednesday night, as Republicans, fresh off of opposing a bipartisan plan to address border security, squabbled over how 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, part of the impasse Wednesday night, as the chamber was set to vote on the motion to move forward with the foreign aid bill, appeared to be that some Senate Republicans wanted an opportunity to add border security provisions back into the legislation with amendments, among other desired adjustments to the legislation.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina defense hawk whose been a vocal advocate for Ukraine aid, said on Thursday that he would vote against the foreign aid bill because “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.

“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. 

It remains unclear if the slimmed-down supplemental funding bill can gain the 60 votes needed to move forward in the chamber. But a deal on amendments could help flip some Republican votes. Senate Republicans met Thursday morning to iron out their differences and find a route forward. 

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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