Senators move ahead with Ukraine aid package, while House leaders say the world is watching

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., arrives as the Senate prepares for a procedural vote on an emergency spending package that would provide military aid to Ukraine and Israel, replenish U.S. weapons systems and provide food, water and other humanitarian aid to Citizens in Gaza, at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, February 11, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(J Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Senators move ahead with Ukraine aid package, while House leaders say the world is watching

MARY CLARE JALONICK and STEPHEN GROVES

February 11, 2024

While a growing number of Republicans oppose U.S. aid to Ukraine, Senate leaders argue in strong terms that the money is crucial to pushing back Russian President Vladimir Putin and preserving America’s global position.

At the Capitol, the Senate again voted to move forward in a rare weekend session, with the help of the Senate majority leader

Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.)

and Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a stark warning about the consequences of abandoning longtime U.S. allies in Europe.

Today, it is no exaggeration to say that the eyes of the world are on the United States Senate, McConnell said. Our allies and partners hope that the indispensable nation, the leader of the free world, has the resolve to continue.

The 67-27 test vote on the $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other countries comes as former president

Donald

Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, is seeking to end aid and has escalated his attacks on the NATO military alliance.

Trump said Saturday at a campaign rally in South Carolina that Russia should be able to do whatever they want to NATO members that don’t meet their defense spending targets. He told a story he had told before about an unknown NATO member who confronted him about his threat not to help them.

While McConnell has made Ukraine a top issue, a growing number of members of his Republican conference have followed Trump’s lead and opposed the aid, which Senate leaders have been trying to pass for months.

Without mentioning Trump by name, McConnell said in his opening statement on Sunday that American leadership matters and is up for debate.

Schumer said that if America doesn’t help Ukraine, Putin will likely succeed.

The only right response to this threat is for the Senate to face it head on by passing this bill as quickly as possible,” Schumer said before the vote.

The Senate is pushing through several procedural votes on the pared-down package after an attempt to combine it with legislation to curb migration at the U.S. border failed. Objections from Republicans staunchly opposed to the aid delayed quick action, forcing a vote over the weekend as negotiations continued over possible changes to the legislation.

Schumer has said he is open to amendments, most of which are likely to fail, but he forced senators to remain in session through the weekend to try to speed up the process.

“I can’t remember the last time the Senate was in session on Super Bowl Sunday,” Schumer said as he opened the session. But as I’ve said all week, we’ll keep working on this bill until the job is done.

In a key vote last week, 17 Republican senators agreed to begin debate on the bill, and 31 voted against it, giving McConnell and other Republican supporters the aid new hope that it would pass.

But even if the Senate passes the package, its future is highly uncertain in the House of Representatives, where a large majority of Republican lawmakers have close ties to Trump.

Amid battlefield shortages, the package would give Ukraine $60 billion, mainly to purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, including ammunition and air defense systems that authorities say it desperately needs as Russia ravages the country. It includes $8 billion for the government in Kiev and other aid.

It would also 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 aid for Gaza.

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