US Senate passes aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

Senate leader Chuck Schumer hailed the package's importance to "the security of Western democracy".

Senate leader Chuck Schumer hailed the package's importance to "the security of Western democracy". Photo: AP

The Democratic-led US Senate has passed a $US95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan amid growing doubts about the legislation’s fate in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The lawmakers approved the measure in a 70-29 vote on Tuesday that exceeded the chamber’s 60-vote threshold for passage and sent the legislation on to the House.

Twenty two Republicans joined most Democrats to support the bill.

“It’s certainly been years, perhaps decades, since the Senate has passed a bill that so greatly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but the security of Western democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the Senate vote.

“American assistance brings just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world,” he said on X.

Funding is crucial for Kyiv’s ability to repel Russian attacks and keep its battered economy going as the war nears its third year.

The Senate vote occurred before sunrise after eight hardline Republican opponents of Ukraine aid held an overnight marathon of speeches that dominated the chamber floor for more than six hours.

Democratic President Joe Biden has been urging Congress to hurry the new aid to Ukraine and US partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, for months.

After Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, he also requested funds for the US ally, along with humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

Both houses of Congress must approve the legislation before Biden can sign it into law.

Schumer said he believed the measure would receive the same strong bipartisan support if it came to a vote in the House.

But the bill appears to face long odds of getting to the floor of the House, where Republican Speaker Mike Johnson faulted it for lacking conservative provisions to stem a record flow of migrants across the US-Mexico border.

“In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” Johnson said in a statement on Monday.

“America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo,” said Johnson, who has suggested in the past that the House could split the legislation into separate bills.

The $US95.34 billion ($146 billion) aid package includes $US61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel in its war against Hamas and $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, and deter aggression by China.

It would also provide $US9.15 billion in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones around the globe.

Republicans have demanded for months that the foreign aid bill include border restrictions.

But a bipartisan border deal, negotiated for months, ran afoul of most Senate Republicans after it was rejected by Donald Trump, the party’s leading White House candidate.

Schumer stripped the border security language from the bill last week.

Trump, who hopes to use the border issue to unseat Biden in the November election, has since turned his criticism on the foreign aid bill, saying aid to US allies should instead take the form of loans.

Aid to Ukraine faces powerful headwinds in the House, where Trump’s interests hold greater sway with Republicans who control the chamber by a thin majority.

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