US senators cleared a first hurdle Thursday, Feb. 8, to a sweeping foreign aid package -- including a $60 billion lifeline for Ukraine -- although opposition from right-wing allies of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump means final passage remains far from guaranteed.

The procedural vote to at least consider the bill marked a stunning about-face by Senate Republicans.

Until now they had refused to renew funding for Ukraine's fight against Russian invasion if Democrats didn't also agree to stringent new curbs on a record surge of undocumented migrants across the US-Mexican border.

The $95 billion package set to be debated also includes funding for Israel's fight against Hamas militants and for key strategic ally Taiwan. The lion's share, however, would help pro-Western Ukraine restock depleted ammunition supplies, weapons and other crucial needs as it enters a third year of war.

Advertisement

The aid had looked dead in the water after Republicans rejected an earlier version on Wednesday that also featured many of the Mexico border security measures they had spent months championing.

Under pressure from Trump, who is running for a second term and wants to exploit President Joe Biden's perceived weakness on immigration, Republicans instead appeared to decide that they would prefer stopping any border reforms until after November's election.

But Republican senators relented in a dramatic vote Thursday after the Democrats, who have a slim majority in the upper chamber, decoupled the aid from the border issue entirely.

What 24 February 2022 Means for Us – Plokhy, Pomerantsev, Kiselev
Other Topics of Interest

What 24 February 2022 Means for Us – Plokhy, Pomerantsev, Kiselev

Two years on, a leading historian, and two prominent journalists and authors comment on what Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine signifies for them.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the vote was a "very important first step" in freeing up more aid for his country and a "bad day" for Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, vowed to keep the chamber working on the bill "until the job is done."

"This bill is essential for our national security, for the security of our friends in Ukraine, in Israel, for humanitarian aid for innocent civilians in Gaza, and for Taiwan," he said.

Advertisement

The procedural move, which could open the way for a full vote in the middle of next week after amendments to the text are negotiated, capped an extraordinary spate of chaos in a deeply polarized Congress.

The two parties are able to agree on little ahead of the elections. However, much of the dysfunction has been blamed directly 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.

- 'Real solutions' -

Senate Republicans originally demanded border security as a condition for supporting pro-Western Ukraine as it battles the invasion launched by Putin in February 2022.

But Trump is running for a return to the White House on a platform centered around accusing Biden of failing to resolve the border issue.

A hard-fought bipartisan compromise -- combining Ukraine and Israel aid with some of the toughest immigration curbs in decades -- was initially celebrated as a breakthrough on some of the most consequential issues facing the country.

However, the plan collapsed within days of its weekend release, as Trump warned lawmakers to reject it.

Advertisement

The new foreign-aid-only bill could still fail, with Senate Republicans divided between traditional conservatives and Trump's allies, who are against any action on the border before November's election and also oppose Ukraine aid.

Even if the foreign aid advances from the Senate, it would still have to pass through the much more Trump-friendly House of Representatives.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has not revealed whether he would be willing even to put a foreign aid-only bill on the floor for a vote.

And heated negotiations are taking place with House Republicans seeking to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has become the main target for right-wing attacks over the border crisis.

"Instead of focusing on real solutions to secure the border... House Republicans have spent this week backtracking on their words and undermining their own professed priorities in order to do the bidding of Donald Trump," said Democratic National Committee rapid response director Alex Floyd.

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Comments (3)

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png
Mark
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

The Seante changed their mind??!!! for fucks sake what a stupid article.

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png
Philip Tummarello
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

"Toughest immigration curbs in decades"?? This is complete falsehood. The proposed legislation would have codified non-enforcement across a myriad of categories including an additional 5,000 entrees PER DAY from previously excluded criminals and narcotic transporters and cartel human trafficking (prostitution) victims.

Deportations of those who commit violent crimes has already been stopped by the Biden Administration for the past three years and the carnage on American cities streets bare eloquent testimony to this FACT. Why the Kyiv Post continues to publish articles that are intentionally misleading Ukrainians is destructive. Trump's ghost has no more influence over congress than I do. Election year politics notwithstanding.

Last night, it was reported in the American press that Biden has had his executive order at the ready to immediately close the southern and northern borders of the US as Trump had done in 2016 and it has been ready for several months. If he had done what he is mandated to do as a matter of law, Ukraine would have received its 16% of the total sixty billion dollar funding directly, as the funding mechanism requires. The rest of the aid goes directly to American companies to replenish severely reduced stockpiles of munitions and equipment. Slava Ukriani! Geroyam Slava!!

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png
Steve G.
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Even if it passes the senate, it’s unlikely it will get past the house. The pro-russia MAGAs feel like they are starting to see the results of their stalling, and will continue to do so. Never forget they are ideologically aligned with Putin. They approve of his methods and fantasize about wielding the same kind of power.

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png