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US Senate advances $95 bn aid bill for Ukraine, Israel

After overcoming a previous impasse, the US Senate has agreed to consider a targeted aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan amid persistent Republican divisions.
Congress of the United States.
The Congress of the United States. Photo: president.gov.ua

The US Senate has taken a step forward by advancing a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, overcoming initial opposition that halted a broader bipartisan bill encompassing border security and foreign aid. This development follows a failed attempt to pass a larger $118 billion package, which included various US border measures that Senate Republicans rejected.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its second year, US Congressional Republicans have stalled approval of new aid funding for Ukraine for months.

In a decisive vote of 67-32, lawmakers agreed to consider the streamlined aid package, showcasing a mix of bipartisan support and ongoing division within the Republican ranks. The fate of the bill, however, remains uncertain amidst Republican disagreements that may prolong the legislative process.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the architect of the current measure, hailed the vote as a “good first step” and committed to continuing efforts until the aid is secured. The package earmarks $60 billion for military aid to Ukraine and $14.1 billion for security assistance to Israel, along with $9.15 billion in humanitarian aid for conflict-affected civilians.

The bill’s advancement is particularly critical for Ukraine, which has warned of its diminishing capacity to counter Russian aggression without sustained US support. The deadlock in Congress since December has impeded further aid, underscoring the urgency of the legislative action.

The Pentagon has highlighted the urgency of approving the funding request, emphasizing the global implications of support for Ukraine and its role in maintaining global stability and countering aggression. The Pentagon’s concerns also extend to the strategic alliances being sought by Russia with countries like Iran and North Korea, further underscoring the importance of timely aid to Ukraine​​.

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Despite clearing the initial hurdle, the bill’s passage through the House of Representatives remains challenging, given the Republican majority’s hesitance to approve such funding. This legislation represents potentially the last opportunity for Congress to provide aid to Ukraine in the near term.

Senate Republicans, after rejecting the comprehensive bill, have shown a willingness to negotiate on this focused aid package, leaving room for potential amendments. These could reintroduce some border security measures or adjust the funding allocations, reflecting ongoing debates over prioritizing foreign aid amidst domestic concerns.

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