Sens. Peter Welch, Bernie Sanders, and Jeff Merkley were the only three members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to vote against the bill.

Three Democratic senators voted against a $95.3 billion bill to give aid to Israel and Ukraine.They each cited the brutality of Israel’s war in Gaza, saying the US shouldn’t provide more weapons.Other Democratic senators who have been critical of the war voted for the aid anyway.

Early on Tuesday morning, the Senate passed a $95.3 billion bill to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan by a 70-29 margin.

Most of the votes against the bill came from Republicans, some of whom were opposed to providing $60 billion in Ukraine aid while others protested the lack of border security provisions.

But three members of the Senate Democratic Conference joined them, protesting the $14 billion in Israel aid: Peter Welch of Vermont, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

While all three are supportive of Ukraine aid, all said that they could not support providing Israel with more weapons amid its devastating war in Gaza, which the country launched after the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks. Since the war began, more than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed.

“As I have said many times, Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas’ terrorism,” Sanders said on the Senate floor last week. “But it does not have the right to obliterate an entire people.”

“I have always supported the free, secure, and democratic State of Israel. I still do,” said Welch. “The Netanyahu government’s destruction of Gaza won’t make Israel more secure or more free.”

“I cannot vote to send more bombs and shells to Israel when they are using them in an indiscriminate manner against Palestinian civilians,” said Merkley.

It’s the latest example of Democrats growing more comfortable rejecting aid to Israel. According to one recent poll, half of Democrats believe Israel is committing genocide, and the war could have electoral consequences for President Joe Biden as he seeks reelection.

Other Democratic senators who have been critical of Israel’s war voted for the bill anyway, with some citing a recent executive action from Biden reiterating that US military assistance must be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. It requires any country receiving foreign aid, including Israel, to submit written assurances that they are complying with human rights laws.

“Congress must ensure that this new condition for US aid is enforced, and the US must use its leverage to help end this war, bring the hostages home, and start working toward long-term peace,” said Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who voted for the bill.

Yet the aid package faces an uncertain path towards Biden’s desk: it still needs to pass the House, and Speaker Mike Johnson issued a statement on Monday night indicating that the bill wouldn’t simply sail through the lower chamber.

“In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” said Johnson. “America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo.”

After pushing for the inclusion of border security provisions in the foreign aid bill, Republicans balked at the bipartisan deal struck last week, and leaders in both parties in the Senate opted to move forward without those provisions.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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