US aid package: Senate passes $95.3B bill for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after an overnight debate, but it now faces an uncertain future in the House. 

The Senate vote came after months of difficult negotiations and amid growing political divisions in the Republican Party over the role of the United States abroad.

A small group of Republicans opposed to the $60 billion for Ukraine held the Senate floor through the night, using the final hours of debate to argue that the U.S. should focus on its own problems before sending more money overseas. But 22 Republicans voted with nearly all Democrats to pass the package 70-29, with supporters arguing that abandoning Ukraine could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and threaten national security across the globe.

"With this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waiver, will not falter, will not fail," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who worked closely with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) walks out of the Senate Chamber following a series of votes at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) walks out of the Senate Chamber following a series of votes at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It’s unclear how the aid package will fare in the House, where hardline Republicans aligned with former President Donald Trump — the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, and a critic of support for Ukraine — oppose the legislation.

In a statement on Monday evening, House Speaker Mike Johnson cast new doubt on the package, making clear that it could be weeks or months before Congress sends the legislation to President Joe Biden's desk — if at all.

Ukraine, Israel aid package – what’s in it?

The U.S. aid package would purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, including munitions and air defense systems that authorities say are desperately needed as Russia batters Ukraine. 

It also includes $8 billion for the government in Kyiv and other assistance.

"For us in Ukraine, continued US assistance helps to save human lives from Russian terror," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on social media. "It means that life will continue in our cities and will triumph over war."

In addition, the legislation would provide $14 billion for Israel’s war with Hamas, $8 billion for Taiwan and partners in the Indo-Pacific to counter China, and $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza.

Two Democrats, Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Peter Welch of Vermont, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, voted against it. The progressive lawmakers have objected to sending offensive weaponry to Israel.

"I cannot in good conscience support sending billions of additional taxpayer dollars for Prime Minister Netanyahu's military campaign in Gaza," Welch said. "It’s a campaign that has killed and wounded a shocking number of civilians. It’s created a massive humanitarian crisis."

Slimmed-down aid package after border bill collapses

The Senate’s passage of the aid package followed almost five months of negotiations over an expansive bill that would have paired the foreign aid with an overhaul of border and asylum policies

Republicans demanded the trade-off, saying the surge of migration into the United States had to be addressed alongside the security of allies.

However, a bipartisan deal on border security fell apart just days after its unveiling. Republicans declared the bill insufficient and blocked it on the Senate floor.

After the border bill collapsed, the two leaders abandoned the border provisions and pushed forward with passing the foreign aid package alone — as Democrats had originally intended.

While the slimmed-down foreign aid bill eventually won enough Republican support to pass, several GOP senators who had previously expressed support for Ukraine voted against it.

Sen. J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican, along with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and other opponents, spent several hours on the floor railing against the aid and complaining about Senate process. They dug in their heels to delay a final vote, speaking on the floor until daybreak.

Vance argued that the U.S. should step back from the conflict and help broker an end to it with Russia's Putin. He questioned the wisdom of continuing to fuel Ukraine’s defense when Putin appears committed to fighting for years.

"I think it deals with the reality that we’re living in, which is they’re a more powerful country, and it’s their region of the world," he said.

Meanwhile, supporters of the aid pushed back, warning that bowing to Russia would be a historic mistake with devastating consequences. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.