The Senate is currently navigating a complex legislative process to pass a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill that includes assistance for Ukraine and Israel. However, GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is using intricate Senate rules to impede the progress, potentially extending the process into the weekend.
Despite the Senate reaching a critical 60-vote threshold to advance the bill on Thursday and conducting another procedural vote on Friday night, a final vote is expected next week.
Paul, known for leveraging Senate rules, expressed his determination to slow down the process, emphasizing the importance of discussing the Ukraine border in relation to the US border.
“I think we should stay here as long as it takes. If it takes a week or a month, I’ll force them to stay here to discuss why they think the border of Ukraine is more important than the US border,” Paul told CNN.
Senators engaged in negotiations on amendments to the package on Friday, discussing the number, type, and voting requirements for each amendment. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged cooperation from Republican colleagues to expedite the process, emphasizing the Democrats’ willingness to consider reasonable amendments.
“I hope our Republican colleagues can work with us to reach an agreement on amendments so we can move this process along,” said Schumer. “Nevertheless, the Senate will keep working on this bill until the job is done.”
Earlier, Republicans had blocked a broader bill combining foreign aid with a bipartisan border deal. While initially demanding border security inclusion, Republicans later rejected the bipartisan deal following criticism from former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans.
Ahead of the final vote on the foreign aid package, additional procedural votes are anticipated over the weekend. If passed by the Senate, the bill will proceed to the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson’s stance on holding a vote remains unclear, given opposition from many House Republicans to further aid for Ukraine.
Senate Republicans are currently divided on the foreign aid package, with some seeking amendments related to immigration and border policy. The bill allocates billions for Ukraine’s support in its conflict with Russia, security assistance for Israel, and humanitarian aid for Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine.
The provisions include $60 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid, and $4.8 billion for regional partners in the Indo-Pacific, among other measures.
Despite internal GOP divisions, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell defended the necessity of passing the foreign aid package, emphasizing its contributions to American defense production, job creation, and economic growth.
“Even accounting for direct assistance sent to allies like Israel, more than 75% of this legislation is bound for investments right here in America,” McConnell said.