Democrats in the US Senate are due to make a fresh attempt Thursday to restore funding to Ukraine in its fight against Russian invasion, after a first vote on a multi-billion-dollar aid package failed amid Republican chaos.
Democratic President Joe Biden had been pushing for $60 billion for Kyiv as part of a sweeping foreign aid and immigration bill that included stringent border security measures conservatives had been demanding for months.
But Republicans blocked the $118 billion package Wednesday after coming under pressure from former president and presumptive 2024 nominee Donald Trump to leave the country's border crisis for him to campaign on as an election issue.
That led to an hours-long standoff in the upper chamber of Congress, resolved only when party leaders elected to schedule a new vote that puts immigration on the back burner and calls for $95 billion in aid, mostly for Ukraine and Israel.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would reconvene at noon on Thursday “to give our Republican colleagues the night to figure themselves out.”
New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker said he was appalled to watch Republicans “create more problems and chaos by abandoning a good-faith negotiation” because of Trump’s pressure.
“This is some of the worst of Washington I’ve seen,” he thundered.
Wednesday’s failed vote capped an extraordinary period of dysfunction in Congress, with many Republicans in thrall to Trump’s election ambitions and desperate to avoid handing Biden any wins, even if it means sabotaging their own priorities.
The party’s contingent controlling the House of Representatives was embarrassed by back-to-back defeats Tuesday on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and an aid package for Israel that raised questions over its ability even to count votes.
But it was far from the first time that rank-and-file conservatives have dismayed the Republican leadership by tanking legislation.
Hamstrung by deep divisions and factionalism, House Republicans were able to a pass a paltry 27 bills that became law last year, despite holding 724 votes.
Much of the current chaos has been blamed on Trump, who looks almost certain to be the Republican standard-bearer in November despite losing the presidency to Biden in 2020 and being embroiled in criminal charges.
Senate Republicans originally demanded tough immigration curbs as a condition for supporting pro-Western Ukraine as it battles a full-scale invasion by Russia launched in 2022.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter