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Senate Approves Aid Bill for Ukraine and Israel, Sending It to Biden

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to give final approval to a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending it to President Biden and ending months of uncertainty over whether the United States would continue to support kyiv in its fight against Russia. assault.

The vote reflects resounding bipartisan support for the measure, which passed the House on Saturday by lopsided margins after a tortured trip to the Capitol, where it was nearly derailed by right-wing resistance. The Senate’s action, by a vote of 79 to 18, was a victory for the president, who had urged lawmakers to act quickly so he could sign the law.

And it ended an extraordinary political saga that raised questions about whether the United States would continue to play a leading role in maintaining international order and projecting its values ​​globally.

“Our allies around the world have been watching Congress for six months and wondering the same thing: When it matters most, will America find the strength to come together, overcome the centrifugal pull of partisanship and to face the magnitude of the moment? »Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and majority leader, said Tuesday. “Tonight, under the watchful eye of history, the Senate answers that question with a thunderous and resounding “yes.”

In a statement minutes after the vote, Mr. Biden said he would sign the bill “and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment in Ukraine this week.”

“Congress passed my legislation to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the power of American leadership: we stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and oppression,” he said. he declares.

The House passed the four-part package on Saturday: one measure for each of the three U.S. allies and another intended to sweeten the deal for conservatives that includes a provision that could result in a nationwide ban on TikTok. He sent the bill to the Senate as a single package that required only one up or down vote to pass.

Facing vehement opposition from his right flank to aid to Ukraine, President Mike Johnson structured the bill this way in the House to capture different coalitions of support without allowing opposition to a single element of causing the whole thing to fail. The majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives opposed aid to kyiv.

Elements of the bill are nearly identical to one that passed the Senate with bipartisan support in February. It includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine; $26.4 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza; and $8.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.

In addition to the watering-down package, which also includes new rounds of sanctions against Iranian and Russian officials, the House added provisions to direct the president to demand repayment of $10 billion in economic aid from the Ukrainian government. It was a nod to former President Donald J. Trump’s call to make any additional aid to kyiv a loan. But the bill allows the president to forgive these loans starting in 2026.

Nine Republicans who opposed the aid legislation passed by the Senate in February supported the bill this time. When Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma changed his vote Tuesday, this time agreeing to advance the bill, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and minority leader, gave it a boost in the Senate.

“Seventy-five percent of the bill, the total funding, stays in the United States,” Mr. Mullin said on Newsmax, explaining his support for the bill. “That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. This goes to our defense industry; This serves to replenish our ammunition.

Fifteen far-right Republican senators opposed to aid to Ukraine voted against the bill. One of them, Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, argued that Congress was “rushing to fund more to fight a war that has no chance of a positive outcome.”

“Pushing more money into Ukraine’s coffers will only prolong the conflict and lead to more loss of life,” Tuberville said. “No one at the White House, the Pentagon or the State Department can explain what victory looks like in this fight. They couldn’t do it when we sent the first tranche of aid more than two years ago. We should work with Ukraine and Russia to negotiate an end to this madness.”

Three liberals, Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Peter Welch of Vermont, as well as independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also opposed the measure. They said they could not approve sending more offensive weapons to Israel when the government’s campaign in Gaza has killed tens of thousands of people and created a hunger crisis there.

“We now find ourselves in an absurd situation where Israel is using American military assistance to block the delivery of American humanitarian aid to the Palestinians,” Mr. Sanders said. “If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is.” But it is also a blatant violation of US law. Given this reality, we shouldn’t even be having this debate today. It is illegal to continue current military aid to Israel, let alone send an additional $9 billion without any strings attached. »

But the vast majority of senators from both parties supported the bill, and Senate leaders considered its passage a triumph, especially given the opposition to aid to Ukraine that had been building in the room.

For months, Mr. Johnson and right-wing Republicans in the House refused to consider aid to Ukraine unless Mr. Biden agreed to tough measures to reduce immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico . When Senate Democrats agreed to legislation this year combining aid with tougher border control provisions, Mr. Trump denounced it and Republicans rejected it out of hand.

Then the Senate passed its own $95 billion emergency aid legislation to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, without any immigration measures, increasing political pressure on the House to do the same. For weeks, the message to Mr. Johnson from Mr. Schumer and Mr. McConnell was the same: pass the Senate bill.

In extensive remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday before the procedural vote, Mr. McConnell called Congress’ approval of the aid package “a test of American resolve, our preparedness and our willingness to lead.” He chastised his party’s opponents, criticizing those who he said would “indulge in the fantasy of pulling a drawbridge.”

“Make no mistake: The delay in providing Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself has severely tested the chances of defeating Russian aggression,” McConnell said. “Hesitation and hesitation have compounded the challenges we face. Today’s action is long overdue, but our work does not stop here. Confidence in American resolve is not restored overnight. The expansion and replenishment of the democratic arsenal does not happen by magic.”

Ukrainian officials welcomed the imminent adoption of the bill.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, Speaker of Ukraine’s Parliament, posted a photo on social media of lawmakers waving American flags inside the hall in Kyiv, in “gratitude to the United States and all members of the House of Representatives who supported the bill on aid to Ukraine. We look forward to a similar decision from the Senate.

“The United States has been and remains a strategic partner alongside the Ukrainian people in our fight against the Russian aggressor! » added Mr. Stefanchuk.

The photograph recalls the scene that played out in the House on Saturday, when Democrats waved miniature Ukrainian flags as they voted for the aid bill. They were reprimanded by Mr. Johnson and other Republicans, who called it a violation of decorum and said only American flags should be flown in the room.

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Rome.

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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