Despite opposition from former US President Donald Trump, senators moved closer to passing a foreign aid bill.
A narrowly divided US Senate moved closer to passing a $95.34bn aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, showing undiminished bipartisanship despite mounting opposition from Republican hardliners and former US President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, the Democratic-led Senate voted 67-27 to clear the latest procedural hurdle and moved the foreign aid measure towards an ultimate vote on passage in the coming days.
Eighteen Republicans backed the legislation after Trump, the dominant Republican White House candidate, criticised the bill on social media by saying that the foreign aid should take the form of a loan.
Democratic President Joe Biden, who has been seeking the aid for months, on Friday said Congress would be guilty of “neglect” if it failed to pass the measure.
The bill includes $61bn for Ukraine, $14bn for Israel in its war against Hamas and $4.83bn to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, and deter aggression by China. It also would provide $9.15bn in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones around the globe.
Crucial for Ukraine
The money is viewed as crucial by Kyiv, as it grinds toward the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Passage of the bill in the US Senate would send the legislation on to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it faces an uncertain future.
During a visit to Kyiv on Friday, a bipartisan delegation of House lawmakers vowed to do their part to pass the measure.
Senate Republicans believe bipartisan passage would help stir support among Republicans in the House.
“It will shape the environment such that … more Republicans will feel comfortable advancing the bill,” Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, told reporters.
Republicans want amendments that could address the increase in migration across the US-Mexico border and forgo humanitarian assistance provisions by restricting foreign aid to weapons and materiels.
But some Republicans who oppose further aid to Ukraine have vowed to delay consideration by forcing the Senate to comply with a labyrinth of time-consuming parliamentary rules.
“It is necessary to maintain American support. And I am grateful to our American partners who recognise this. We cannot let Russian war and evil spread,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy said in a statement on his social media platforms on Saturday.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin sobers up only when he sees strength in front of him. Strength is required. I am grateful to everyone who helps us increase it,” Zelenskyy said.