Senate Passes Aid Package

On Tuesday morning, Senate Democrats and Republicans joined together in a rare show of bipartisanship, passing a $95 billion national security package. The bill, which garnered a vote of 70-29, includes critical aid for three key U.S. allies - Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. While 22 Senate Republicans voted for the package, along with 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats, 26 Republicans and two Democrats voted against it. Notably, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the bill.

The passage of the bill was lauded by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who called it a clear message of American leadership and resolve. "If we want the world to remain a safe place for freedom and democracy, then America must lead the way," Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor. He also expressed hope to urge Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, R-La., to bring the bill to a vote in the House and "do the right thing."

The Senate's decision to pass the foreign aid bill comes after months of delays and disagreements on whether tough border security measures should be included. Republicans had demanded that any bill addressing aid to Ukraine must also address the ongoing border crisis, leading to the demise of a previous bipartisan package. Now, with the Senate's action, the bill faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled House. House conservatives are pressuring Johnson to block funds for Ukraine until America's own borders are secure, and Johnson has made it clear that he will not bring the Senate security package to the House floor.

The emergency aid bill, if passed by the House, would provide critical support to several key allies. A total of $60.06 billion would be allocated to help protect Ukraine against the ongoing Russian invasion, $14.1 billion for security assistance to Israel, and $9.15 billion for humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine, and other areas affected by conflicts. Additionally, $4.83 billion would be dedicated to supporting allies in the Indo-Pacific region and deterring aggression from China.

The Senate initially planned to move forward with a comprehensive foreign aid package that included stricter asylum and border security provisions. However, this plan was abandoned after former President Donald Trump and top House GOP leaders objected to the bipartisan deal, saying it did not go far enough to address the situation at the southern border. With the border deal off the table, the Senate leadership was forced to come up with a new strategy and move to a standalone aid package.

However, Senate conservatives objected to this move, insisting that border security provisions must be attached to the aid bill. Among them, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., repeatedly delayed the passage of the bill and argued that the Senate should focus on addressing issues at the border before sending aid to other countries. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pushed back against this argument, saying that it would be a mistake to disregard America's global responsibilities. "This is the idle work for idle minds - and it has no place in the United States Senate," McConnell said in a rare Sunday session.

Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who voted in favor of the bill, also pushed back against his GOP colleagues who opposed it. In an emotional floor speech and interview with reporters, Moran argued that America's focus on the world is also focused on protecting the country. He expressed his disappointment that the bill did not include any border security measures and urged House leaders to pass the bill, reminding them that failing to do so would send a bad message to America's allies.

In a message on Telegram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the Senate for their support and said that the aid helps save human lives from Russian terror. He also recognized the importance of American assistance in bringing peace to Ukraine and restoring global stability. "This is not just about taking care of others, it is about protecting Americans as well," Zelenskyy said. As the bill moves to the House, it remains to be seen whether House Speaker Mike Johnson will heed Schumer's call and bring it to a vote, or if the bill will encounter further roadblocks on its path to providing critical aid to these three key allies.

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