A bill that would send $14.1 billion in military aid to Israel, as well as $61 billion to Ukraine and another $8 billion to Taiwan, cleared one of many procedural hurdles in the Senate on Friday. The package also includes $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
The $95.3 billion aid package is being proposed after the Republicans blew up a bipartisan border bill they claimed they wanted, which contained most of the funding being considered.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he would allow amendments to the aid package but that he would keep the Senate in session “until the job is done.”
Senator Rand Paul and a few other Republicans are going to want to use the amendment process to weaken or even destroy the package. Schumer knows this, which is why he will likely limit the number of amendments that can be offered.
Central to the package has always been the military aid for Ukraine, whose President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has personally visited Congress to plead for help, including in a whirlwind trip last December, as he tries to preserve his country.
Amid shortages on the battlefield, the package would unleash $60 billion for Ukraine, mostly to purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, including munitions and air defense systems that authorities say it desperately needs as Russia batters the country. It includes $8 billion for the government in Kyiv and other assistance.
Ukraine can’t win if they get this funding. But it will probably prevent them from losing — at least for the foreseeable future.
The funding would also go to “rebuilding the arsenal of democracy,” as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claims, “and demonstrating to our allies and adversaries alike that we’re serious about exercising American strength,” McConnell said.
The Israeli aid package is getting some pushback from liberal Senators like Bernie Sanders.
Sanders said much of the U.S. money for Israel would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “buy more of the bombs he has used to flatten Gaza and killed thousands and thousands of children.”
“This is American complicity at its worse and it’s really quite unbelievable,” Sanders said. “Does the United States Congress really want to provide more military aid to Netanyahu so that he can annihilate thousands and thousands more men, women and children?”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and other Democrats announced they had secured a national security memorandum with the Biden administration to ensure the U.S. assistance is used in accordance to international and humanitarian law.
That memorandum is not likely to deter Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from attacking anywhere a Hamas terrorist comes out of hiding.
If the bill makes it through the gauntlet of procedural votes, there may be a final vote on the measure on Tuesday or Wednesday.