POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Senate passes $95 billion package with aid for Ukraine and Israel, setting up showdown with the House

Feb 13, 2024, 6:13 AM | Updated: 5:39 pm

US capitol...

The Senate passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill with assistance for Ukraine and Israel. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The Senate passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill with assistance for Ukraine and Israel in a vote early Tuesday morning, setting up a showdown with the House as Speaker Mike Johnson has criticized the legislation.

The foreign aid package includes billions of dollars to support Ukraine and for security assistance for Israel, as well as humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine, among other priorities. It’s unclear whether Johnson would hold a vote on it and many House Republicans are opposed to further aid to Ukraine.

The bill passed the Senate despite Johnson’s criticism of the legislation and former President Donald Trump signaling opposition to the bill by arguing the US should stop providing foreign aid unless it is in the form of a loan. The Senate vote was 70 to 29 with 22 Republicans voting in favor, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“History settles every account,” McConnell said in a statement following the vote. “And today, on the value of American leadership and strength, history will record that the Senate did not blink.”

The bill includes $60 billion to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance and $4.8 billion to support regional partners in the Indo-Pacific region in addition to other policy provisions, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the news in a statement Tuesday, thanking Schumer, McConnell and “every US Senator who has supported continued assistance to Ukraine as we fight for freedom, democracy, and the values we all hold dear.”

“For us in Ukraine, continued US assistance helps to save human lives from Russian terror. It means that life will continue in our cities and will triumph over war,” Zelensky said on X. “American assistance brings just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world.”

Bill faces Johnson’s opposition in the House

The Senate passed the legislation after Republicans blocked a broader bill last week that would have combined foreign aid with a bipartisan border deal. Republicans had initially demanded that border security be part of the bill, but went on to reject the bipartisan border deal amid forceful attacks on the measure by Trump and top House Republicans.

In a statement on Monday, Johnson criticized the foreign aid bill over its lack of border provisions, saying, the Senate “should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe.” Johnson had previously opposed the broader bill that did include border provisions. The speaker has characterized those provisions as insufficient, despite the fact that they were the product of bipartisan negotiations and included restrictive border measures.

“The House will have to figure out a path forward and they’ll have to do it their way, but we needed to start the process and we’ve done that,” Senate GOP Whip John Thune told reporters on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated passage of the legislation, saying in remarks on the floor, “It’s been years, perhaps decades, since the Senate passed a bill that so greatly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but the security of western democracy.”

“I believe that if Speaker Johnson brought this bill to the House floor, it will pass with the same strong bipartisan support,” Schumer said.

Trump’s stance on foreign aid looms

The Senate continued to move forward on the bill even as Trump argued the US should not grant foreign aid unless it is a loan, signaling opposition to the legislation. Trump has also indicated he would encourage Russian aggression against any NATO member country that doesn’t pay enough.

A number of Senate Republicans either defended or downplayed Trump’s NATO comments on Monday.

“I’m 100% behind him,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville said of Trump saying NATO members should be paying their dues or risk Putin invading their country.

The Alabama Republican also suggested European allies should be “very worried” about an invasion, saying they should protect themselves and not rely on the US, adding the country “can’t protect everybody.”

Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas said European allies who are worried about Trump’s comments need to “get over it.”

“You know, they need to get over it. They need to stand up and be tough. We need to secure our own border first. We need to take care of things here at home first. When we secure our own border, when we take care of home, great. Let’s help other people as well,” the Republican from Kansas said.

In the Senate, consideration of the bill crawled along for days as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky vowed to drag out the timeline in protest over the legislation.

Paul continued to dig in on Sunday, saying that he will hold out until “hell freezes over.” He indicated he is ready to hold the floor by speaking on the issue of national debt and other matters. “I love to talk. That’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said.

“We do this for a purpose,” Paul said. “I don’t like being here. … I’m not here because it’s fun, I’m here because I don’t think enough people are talking about the danger of the debt.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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Senate passes $95 billion package with aid for Ukraine and Israel, setting up showdown with the House