Senate Advances House-Passed $95 Billion Foreign Aid Package

The Senate voted to advance the $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The package also has a provision requiring TikTok to separate from its Chinese parent company.

The Senate on April 23 voted to advance a $95 billion national security package that includes foreign aid for the war-torn nations of Ukraine and Israel, as well as the Indo-Pacific. The bills also include a measure to force TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company to address national security concerns.

A motion to order cloture and limit debate on the $95 billion funding package was passed by the Senate in an 80–19 vote.

It is unclear when the final vote will be because one senator has the ability to delay the process, but the package is expected to pass.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Epoch Times that he expects the final package to pass with “hopefully north of 70” votes.

President Joe Biden has urged the Senate to quickly pass the legislation, which he’s expected to sign “as soon as possible,” per White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

Mr. Kirby said the White House will immediately disburse around $1 billion of the aid upon it being signed into law.

The bill’s advancement through the upper chamber comes three days after the House passed the bills with bipartisan support over the objections of the GOP’s right flank.

“The Senate now stands ready to take the next step,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) assured after the House vote, promising quick passage of the bills in the Senate.

“I thank Speaker [Mike] Johnson and Leader [Hakeem] Jeffries for working together to do the right thing for our country. I know it was a difficult road, but the House is on the right side of history for approving this bill,” he added.

Together, the package includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $8.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific, and $26.4 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for Gaza. It also includes a measure forcing Chinese divestment of TikTok and allowing the government to give seized Russian assets to Ukraine.

Speaking at a press conference following the procedural vote that advanced the legislation and all but guaranteed its passage, an upbeat and clearly relieved Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fielded an abnormally large number of questions from the press.

“This is an important day for America and a very important day for freedom-loving countries around the world,” Mr. McConnell said.

In later questioning, he suggested that the 30 GOP votes that all but delivered the bill over the finish line show that the “isolationist wing” of the Republican Party—which he said was typified by pundit Tucker Carlson—is on the retreat.

Those 30 Republican votes represent a substantial uptick from previous Ukraine funding packages.

Borderless Package Rankles Republicans

The legislation faced fierce opposition from Republican members who felt that securing the southern border should take precedence over sending financial assistance to foreign countries, particularly Ukraine.

The House package includes $300 million for Ukraine’s border patrol equivalent, but nothing for U.S. border security funding or policy changes.

Speaking to The Epoch Times, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) asked “Why are we securing Ukraine’s border?”

Mr. Scott also cited the bill’s nearly $10 billion for humanitarian funding in Gaza and elsewhere as a reason for his opposition to the package, despite his desire to aid Israel.

The issue has also been a concern in the House.

Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.), who was among the 55 Republicans who opposed the advancement of the foreign aid package in the lower chamber, argued that it was wrong for the United States to be securing the borders of other nations amid the ongoing crisis at the southern border with Mexico.

“We’re sending $300 million for the state border guard services of Ukraine … yet won’t spend the same kind of money here to secure our own border,” Ms. Hageman said.

Some Senate Republicans are opposed to the whole Ukrainian enterprise.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters ahead of the April 23 vote, “I see no possible strategy to win the war,” opining that any strategy to deliver a total Ukrainian victory risks escalation to nuclear war.

“Putin is not gonna lose this war,” Mr. Johnson argued.

He called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a bloody war criminal,” but noted that Russia still has far more population and military capacity than Ukraine can hope to match, and cited the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive that’s ended in a “stalemate.”

Others have complained that passing Ukraine aid now effectively removes all leverage Republicans had over Democrats. Republicans once hoped to use Ukraine aid to force border concessions from Democrats.

“As the Senate passes on Tuesday what the House passed last night, we will have relinquished what little bargaining power we had left” to secure the border, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Mr. Lee noted that part of the GOP’s strategy in holding off on additional Ukraine funding was to “force Joe Biden’s hand” on the border. “That didn’t happen, and the Republican-led House of Representatives walked away from that yesterday,” he said.

House Infighting Over Package

Still, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has insisted in comments to reporters that he felt bringing the bills to the House floor was the right move.

“I’ve done here what I believe to be the right thing, and that is to allow the House to work its will. And as I’ve said, you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may,” he said after the package was passed.

Mr. Johnson’s willingness to join with Democrats on other recent bills had already fractured the House GOP and thrown his speakership into question. Now, with this latest move, he may have sealed his fate.

“Speaker Johnson refuses to use his power as speaker of the House to do any type of negotiating to secure the southern border and stop the madness in our country,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told Fox News.

Charging the speaker with betrayal, the congresswoman called on him to resign.

“Mike Johnson’s speakership is over. He needs to do the right thing—to resign and allow us to move forward in a controlled process. If he doesn’t do so, he will be vacated,” she said.

Her move to oust the speaker, she added, is “coming regardless of what Mike Johnson decides to do.”

Ms. Greene filed a motion to strip Mr. Johnson of the gavel last month as “more of a warning and a pink slip.” Although a vote has yet to be triggered, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have also voiced their support for the speaker’s removal.

Doubling down on her position on April 22, Ms. Greene said GOP voters were fed up with Republican leadership.

“I’ve not seen people this angry since November of 2020,” she said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room.”

The congresswoman noted that the 2020 election angered Republicans because of the many election integrity concerns it raised. But now, she said, their anger has reached “a whole other level.”

“And here’s what really worries me,” she said. “They’re done with the Republican Party. They are absolutely done with Republican leadership like Mike Johnson, who totally sold us out to the Democrats.”

And that frustration could result in Republicans losing the House, Ms. Greene said, if the speaker is not held to account.

Mr. Jeffries, meanwhile, suggested earlier this month that some Democrats might step in to save Mr. Johnson if he brought the foreign aid package to the floor. But he stressed that he was making “an observation,” not a declaration, and that his conference would need to discuss the matter further.

But Mr. Johnson, for his part, said he is unconcerned about the possibility of his removal.

“As I’ve said many times, I don’t walk around this building being worried about a motion to vacate,” he told reporters on April 20. “I have to do my job. We did.”

President Biden has promised to sign the national security package if it lands on his desk.

On an April 22 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, he vowed to provide additional assistance as soon as the measure passes the Senate and becomes law, the White House said.

Jackson Richman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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