The Senate on Tuesday morning passed a bill that would appropriate $95 billion in fresh military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after several Republican senators spent eight hours delaying passage with speeches in opposition.
On Feb. 4, the Senate unveiled the text of a bipartisan national security bill to provide aid to Ukraine during its war against Russia and Israel during its conflict with Hamas, along with border security provisions, though it was rejected by the body on Feb. 7 after Republicans deemed the latter provisions inadequate to mitigate illegal immigration. A new version of the bill, stripped of such provisions, was passed by the Senate on Tuesday at 6:37 AM by a vote of 70 yeas to 29 nays in extraordinary circumstances, after the Senate remained in session throughout the night. (RELATED: ‘That’s A False Choice’: Senators Claim That Ukraine’s Security Is As Important As The Border)
“[I]t should never have taken this long to move forward on this aid that so many of us are saying is necessary — but I am so glad that we are finally here making progress on this crucial package,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray, who also chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, in remarks on the Senate floor on Feb. 8 about the bill. “[O]ur allies are at war, civilians are in harm’s way, and dictators are watching closely to see what we are going to do about it. So really, the stakes could not be higher.”
Read a summary of the bill here:
Opponents of the bill, led by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, sought to maximize their post-cloture speaking time in protest against the bill’s provisions. Paul and seven Republican colleagues delivered eight one-hour speeches, in sequence, beginning at 9:39 PM on Monday, though the Senate remained in session, with voting beginning at 5:12 AM on Tuesday.
“Every time we spend critical resources on Ukraine, we ensure they will not be available to a contingency necessary to the United States…even now, we are sending weapons to Ukraine far faster than we can make them…where is the anti-war left,” said Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, an opponent of the bill, on the floor of the Senate. Vance missed his son’s birthday to speak in opposition to the bill and also recited a poem by Dr. Seuss on the floor in his honor.
“[W]e’re all here tonight…because of just one peckerhead,” Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania had told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday, referring to Paul, for using the same tactic at the bill’s procedural stages, then. The Senate, which had planned to begin its two-week recess on Monday, has remained in session throughout the weekend in order to pass the bill.
In a televised speech on Oct. 19, 2023, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass such a bill. Objections from Republicans to the absence of border security provisions in the original proposal prompted several months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on their inclusion.
The bill appropriates $60 billion to aid Ukraine, with nearly $20 billion being used to replenish U.S. military stocks of equipment that has already been sent to the country. The remainder of such funds will be used to train Ukrainian military personnel and provide intelligence-related support as well as economic assistance to the country.
The #Senate passed the National Security Act, 70-29.
GOP in favor: Boozman Capito Cassidy Collins Cornyn Cramer Crapo Ernst Grassley Hoeven Kennedy McConnell Moran Murkowski Risch Romney Rounds Sullivan Thune Tillis Wicker & Young.
Dem/Ind voting no: Merkley Sanders & Welch
— Senate Press Gallery (@SenatePress) February 13, 2024
The bill will also provide $10 billion to Israel during its conflict with Hamas. Approximately $5.2 billion will be used to support missile defense capabilities, with $1.2 billion being used to procure a new laser-based system, known as the Iron Beam, for Israel.
“[The bill] fully funds the Special Inspector General for Ukraine created by the [National Defense Authorization Act] last year, further expanding already unprecedented visibility into how U.S. assistance is being used,” remarked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Feb. 9, in support of the bill. “[I]t [also] imposes strict new oversight measures on humanitarian assistance and ensures that not a single penny of U.S. taxpayer funds goes to the U.N. agency whose employees stoke hatred in Gaza and participated in the slaughter of Jews in Israel.”
The funding to aid Ukraine and Israel makes up a majority of the bill’s appropriations. However, other national security priorities are also addressed, with $2.5 billion being appropriated to aid Taiwan in efforts to deter a Chinese invasion of the island, as well as $3.3 billion to construct submarines under the “AUKUS” initiative, where the U.S. and the United Kingdom will provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines to deter the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
The bill also contains provisions to fund U.S. diplomatic activities in these countries and $10 billion to support refugee relief efforts across the world, not limited to Ukraine and Gaza. The only border-related item remaining in the bill is legislation to counter fentanyl trafficking, originally introduced by Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, known as the FEND Off Fentanyl Act.
The bill, which was included as an amendment to H.R. 815, will now head to the House of Representatives, where it has already been opposed by several House Republicans. However, Republican supporters of the bill, along with Democrats, are reportedly considering a procedural step known as a “discharge petition” to force a floor vote on the bill, which, if successful, would likely lead to the bill’s passage.
“I urge the House to move on this with urgency. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The costs of inaction are rising every day, especially in Ukraine,” wrote President Joe Biden in a statement emailed to the DCNF. “Significantly, this agreement will provide life-saving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people, the vast majority of whom have nothing to do with Hamas.”
Read the text of the bill here:
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