The legislation has cleared a procedural hurdle, heading toward a vote after border-security measures were stripped out
US lawmakers have moved closer to approving a new round of military aid for Ukraine after 17 Senate Republicans joined with Democrats in pushing the funding legislation closer to a vote, clearing a potential procedural roadblock.
Thursday’s 67-32 cloture vote exceeded the 60% majority needed to advance the $95 billion spending bill, meaning opponents won’t be able to use a so-called filibuster to block a vote. It still faces a potentially protracted Senate debate and negotiations over amendments, and if it passes the Senate, the bill will still require approval from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives before going to President Joe Biden for final approval.
The development followed a weeks-long logjam, surprisingly gaining Republican support after border-security measures were stripped out of the bill. Negotiators had previously demanded provisions to address the influx of illegal migrants across the border with Mexico to help overcome Republican opposition to continued funding of Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.
The latest version of the bill includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion to fund Israel’s war against Hamas, and nearly $5 billion to help deter Chinese “aggression” against Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific partners. An earlier version included more than $20 billion in funding to help secure the nation’s southern border.
“This bill sends the message to Americans that their elected officials don’t care about them,” said Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican. “I’ve never met any Kentuckian who says, ‘Fix the border of Ukraine before you fix our border.‘” He added that he would fight efforts to speed the bill’s passage unless it’s amended to adequately address the border crisis.
With the Senate scheduled to begin a two-week recess this weekend, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, signaled that he would keep lawmakers from leaving Washington “until the job is done.”
A growing number of House Republicans have opposed additional aid to Ukraine, saying President Joe Biden is merely prolonging the conflict while offering no plan to end the bloodshed. The Biden administration confirmed last month that it had run out of funding for Kiev after burning through $113 billion in previously approved aid packages.