Senate advances Ukraine funding despite conservative attempts to delay

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Senators on Monday night approved three procedural motions to pass funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other defense priorities. The move comes despite opposition from conservatives who have been trying to delay the bill.

The Senate voted 66-33 to end debate on the $95 billion package, setting up a final vote for early Tuesday morning to send it to the House. However, its fate in the House is uncertain.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) voted no, after Merkley had previously voted with Democrats to advance the bill on earlier procedural votes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised the bill as a “down payment for the survival of Western democracy and the survival of American values.” He urged his colleagues to end the debate, which has been going on for nearly a week, pointing out that President Biden first requested the package in October.

Democratic and Republican senators who voted to advance the measure hope that strong bipartisan support will encourage Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to bring it to the House floor. However, Johnson criticized the bill for its lack of border provisions, warning that the House will continue to work its own will on these important matters.

The debate on the bill revealed deep divisions within the Senate Republican conference and the animosity Senate conservatives, emboldened by former President Trump, hold toward their own leadership. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) even called on Senate Republican Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to step down from his leadership post.

But McConnell pushed back, arguing that national security should not be compromised by playing politics. He warned that the global order, “in which American support is craved and American strength is feared,” is in doubt.

Monday’s votes also include $60 billion for Ukraine; $14 billion for Israel; $9 billion for humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine; and $4.8 billion to support allies in the Indo-Pacific. There’s also the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which would empower Biden to sanction transnational criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl.

The Senate advanced the package without a bipartisan border reform deal, leading to a revolt by conservative senators. The Senate is expected to vote on the final passage of the legislation either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on whether conservatives insist on using all 30 hours of debate time available to them.

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