Senate passes Ukraine aid, Israel funding and path to TikTok ban, sending bill to Biden’s desk

WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly passed a $95 billion package Tuesday to provide critical aid to Ukraine and enact a provision that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok.

The 79-18 vote sends the package to the White House. Fifteen Republicans and three Democrats voted against the bill. The House passed the package on Saturday.

Biden said Tuesday evening that he would quickly pass the measure.

“I will sign this bill and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so that we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week,” he said in a communicated. “This critical legislation will make our nation and the world safer as we support our friends who defend themselves against terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin.”

The packet includes $60 billion in aid to Ukraine that President Volodymyr Zelensky said would give his country “a chance of victory” against Russia. It also includes $26 billion in aid to Israel and humanitarian relief in Gaza, in addition to $8 billion for security in Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.

And it will give TikTok’s China-based parent company nine months, which the president could extend to up to a year, to sell the popular social media platform or be banned in the United States. This brings TikTok closer than ever to a ban while ensuring its victory. will not be banned until after the 2024 election. TikTok said it would fight the law in court once it is enacted.

American and Ukrainian flags fly Saturday near the U.S. Capitol as the House passes aid to Ukraine.Nathan Howard/Getty Images

“Finally, finally, finally. Tonight, after more than six months of hard work and many twists and turns along the way, America sends a message to the world: We will not turn our backs on you,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer , DN.Y. in the Senate moments before the vote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Tuesday an “important day for America” ​​after months of Republican Party infighting over whether to continue funding Ukraine. McConnell said “we’ve turned the corner on the isolationist movement” and blamed two men for the delay: former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson for his “demonization of Ukraine” and former President Donald Trump for his “mixed views” and previous resistance to Ukraine. help the country.

Two months ago, the Senate voted 70-29 to pass a similar $95 billion foreign aid package — but without the TikTok provision. However, the Senate has proven receptive to the TikTok ban bill, which the House revised. A bill previously passed by the House would have given the parent company six months to sell TikTok, less than the current one.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, endorsed the new bill, saying she was “very pleased” with TikTok’s extended sales window. Cantwell noted that she recommended the change.

“I support this updated legislation,” she said.

Supporters of banning the app in the United States are raising concerns about TikTok’s relationship with Beijing-based ByteDance, saying Americans’ data could, under Chinese law, be accessible to the government Chinese, a prospect TikTok has downplayed, saying its headquarters are located in Beijing. Singapore and Los Angeles. They also claim that China could manipulate the algorithm to advance propaganda.

A TikTok spokesperson responded to the House vote over the weekend by saying, “It is regrettable that the House of Representatives is using the guise of significant foreign and humanitarian aid to once again pass a bill. ban law that would violate the freedom of expression rights of 170 people. million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses and shut down a platform that contributes $24 billion to the American economy each year.

A source within TikTok shared an internal memo sent after the House passed the bill that said once Biden signed it, he would “go to the courts for a legal challenge.”

Sen. Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, pressured his colleagues to reject the package, saying 41 senators could join them in filibustering.

“There is no need for the $95 billion bill to pass. It only takes 41 senators to stop it,” Lee said. written the. “There are 49 Republicans in the Senate, that’s more than enough. What is the position of your senators?

In the end, he failed.

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