The Senate passed a long-awaited foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel early Tuesday morning, giving bipartisan approval to the bill after months of negotiations, dire battlefield warnings and political mudslinging. But the measure faced fierce opposition in the House, where Republican resistance threatened to kill it.
The 70-29 vote reflected a critical mass of support in Congress for the $95 billion emergency aid bill and for continuing to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. The measure would provide Kiev with an additional $60.1 billion — bringing the total U.S. investment in the war effort to more than $170 billion — as well as $14.1 billion for Israel’s war against Hamas and nearly $10 billion for humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict zones, including Palestinians in Gaza.
But it also rattled Republicans and foreshadowed a bumpy road ahead in the GOP-led House, where the speaker suggested late Monday that he would not act on it.
Twenty-two Senate Republicans voted with nearly all Democrats for the bill — five more than helped it clear a final procedural hurdle Monday night — while the rest of the party opposed continuing to fund a foreign country’s fight to protect its sovereignty without first curbing the flow. migration to the United States across the border with Mexico.
The vote came after an all-night Senate session in which a parade of Republican opponents gave speeches denouncing various aspects of the bill.
Republican hostility to the measure was fueled by former President Donald J. Trump, who encouraged GOP senators to reject an earlier version that would have included a bipartisan deal on border security, and President Mike Johnson.
“House Republicans have been crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security amendment bill must recognize that national security begins at our border,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement Monday night, adding: “In the absence of the Senate received any change in border policy, the House will have to continue to work at will on these important issues.”
His comments suggest that the only path for foreign aid legislation through the House may be for a bipartisan coalition like the one in the Senate — including more national security-minded Republicans — to come together and use extraordinary measures to force action.
“If we want the world to remain a safe place for freedom, for democratic principles, for our future prosperity, then America must lead the way – and with this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waver, will not falter, will not fail,” said the senator. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Majority Leader, after the vote.
Later, at a news conference in the Capitol, he laid out a bet if the bill swings across the rotunda.
“Now it’s up to the House: Seize this moment, do the right thing and save democracy,” Mr. Schumer said. “If the hard right kills this bill, it would be a huge gift to Vladimir Putin. That would be a betrayal of our partners and allies and an abandonment of our members.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader who has been a vocal advocate of aid to Ukraine, celebrated the vote as a triumph over skeptics in his party – although he refrained from directly challenging Mr Johnson to bring the bill to the House.
“The Senate understands America’s national security responsibilities and will not ignore them,” Mr. McConnell in a statement after the vote. “History calculates everything. And today, on the value of American leadership and strength, history will record that the Senate did not even blink.”
Nevertheless, the attitude of Mr. McConnell’s move was a break with most Republicans in Congress, who rejected the measure, reflecting a turn away from the party’s traditional hawkish stance and a belief in projecting American power and democratic principles around the world.
Mr. Trump was particularly critical of the laws from the campaign trail. In recent days, he claimed on social media that it was “stupid” for the United States to offer foreign aid instead of loans and encouraged Russia to “do whatever it wants” to NATO members who did not spend enough money on their own defense.
The pressure did little to fray the coalition of Republicans who cast more votes to keep the aid bill moving forward; in fact, the bloc grew as the bill made its way to passage.
That task will be more difficult in the Republican-led House, where Mr. Johnson controls the floor and right-wing lawmakers have shown a willingness to block bills they oppose from even coming up for a vote. Still, if advocates can muster enough support from mainstream, national-security-minded Democrats and Republicans willing to fight Mr. Trump and the far right, they could rally around the opposition through a maneuver known as a discharge petition. That allows lawmakers to force legislation to the floor if they can get the signatures of a majority of lawmakers — 218 members — calling for action.
In the Senate, Republicans who supported the bill argued that its passage was imperative to maintain the United States’ international standing as a guardian of Western-style democracy against threats posed by authoritarian regimes. They saw the war in Ukraine as a critical test of whether Washington is serious about confronting aggressors such as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
“If it just stays this bad for the next few years, Putin loses,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, said of Ukraine’s war effort. He argued that helping Kiev could weaken Putin’s grip on power — “and that’s worth a damn $60 billion, or $600 billion, to get rid of.”
Mr. Tillis also dismissed the idea that Republican voters’ skepticism was the reason they opposed him.
“When people use the base as a reason to say they have to stand up to it, I say, I’m going home, show my base some respect, dispel rumors, talk about the facts,” he said. “And then I don’t have a problem with the base.”
Many Republican opponents cited the lack of strict border restrictions for the United States. But they also led the charge last week to kill a version of the bill that would have paired aid with tougher border enforcement measures, including tougher asylum laws, increased detention capacity and expedited deportations.
“A literal invasion is coming across our border,” Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said Monday. “And all they had time to do in the Senate was take the money, get pallets of cash, load the planes, prepare the champagne and fly to Kiev.”
Other Republicans have argued that sending tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine is foolish, questioning whether Kiev could ever gain an advantage over Russia.
Mr. Putin is “an evil war criminal, but he’s not going to lose,” said Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, adding that “the continuation of this war is destroying Ukraine.”
And in a memo to colleagues, Senator JD Vance, Republican of Ohio, suggested the entire bill was designed to threaten Mr Trump’s ability to cut off aid to Kiev in the future if he wins the election.
“The amendment represents an attempt by the foreign policy taint/deep state to prevent President Trump from pursuing the policies he wants,” Mr. Vance wrote, adding that Democrats are trying to “provide a basis for impeachment and undermining his administration.”
Several Senate Democrats also opposed the bill because of the billions of dollars worth of offensive weapons included for Israel.
“I cannot vote to send more bombs and shells to Israel when they are using them indiscriminately against Palestinian civilians,” Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said in a statement Monday night. He joined Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, who normally votes with the Democrats but broke with the party over his objections to Israel’s actions against Palestinians in Gaza.
Kayla Guo contributed to the reporting.