A $95 billion national security bill that includes funding for Israel and Ukraine was voted on by 18 Republican senators on Sunday, joining Democrats in the process. This could be interpreted as a response to former President Donald Trump’s recent remarks disparaging the NATO alliance, as the bill is expected to pass the chamber early this week.
If the bill makes it through the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is unlikely to take it up since a number of hard-right legislators have made it clear that they would not be supporting Ukraine while it fights off a Russian invasion.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) stated that Democrats using a discharge petition to get around Johnson’s will would be a “obvious choice” to increase the bill’s prospects of passing the House. Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) stated that talks about taking this route are happening with House members.
Artillery ammunition are running low for Ukrainian troops as Western aid is blocked.
The legislation, which includes over $9 billion in humanitarian aid and extra funding for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region, had been delayed for months due to bipartisan border reform negotiations. Last week, most Republicans voted to stall the legislation after Trump expressed his disapproval of the effort.
After some Republicans distanced themselves from Trump’s comments made at a campaign rally on Saturday, during which he declared he would disobey the NATO treaty between the United States and its allies, the president once again loomed large over the proceedings.
According to Trump, he warned a NATO president that his nation “would not protect” Russia if it attacked because they were not devoting enough resources to defense. Trump claimed to have told that president, “In fact, I would encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want.”
The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), described the remarks as “frankly frightening” and stated that they would support Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war against Ukraine. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) claimed that Trump was “signaling” to Putin that, should he win the presidency, he would “hand” him Ukraine.
Murphy claimed that Trump’s statements “guarantee that this war continues, at least through this next election.”
On the Senate floor, senators reiterated their support for NATO and for providing the $60 billion in aid to Ukraine. Although Ukraine is not a signatory to the pact, numerous NATO members have united to support the European country in thwarting Russia’s invasion.
“I know it’s become quite fashionable in some circles to disregard the global interests we have as a global power,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been pushing his conference to deliver the Ukraine aid, said on the Senate floor Sunday. “To lament the commitment that has underpinned the longest drought of great power conflict in human history. This is idle work for idle minds, and it has no place in the United States Senate.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters that suggesting that we abandon our NATO allies “to the Russian wolves” was inappropriate.
Some Republicans claimed they didn’t think Trump was advocating for an attack on a NATO ally, but rather for them to contribute appropriately. “American men and women who would be deployed to defend them would suffer devastating consequences from any attack on a NATO ally,” Tillis stated.
The close ally of President Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), stated on Sunday that “I don’t think he’s going to withdraw from NATO.” I believe he’s attempting to convey a message. I’m not at all concerned about it.
The final vote has been postponed because Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declared he would stall down the foreign aid bill’s passage as much as possible. Paul stated, “We don’t have $100 billion to give anyone,” alluding to the national debt.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was the lone Democrat in the caucus to vote against the aid on Sunday, citing the significant number of civilian deaths and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
The proposal must be voted on again Monday evening after 60 hours of additional debate, unless all senators agree to move the process along more swiftly. Only then will it be put to a vote on ultimate passage, which is likely to occur early on Wednesday morning.
Republicans have been sharply split on how to move forward with the aid package for Israel and Ukraine. Some have argued that McConnell put them in a political bind, giving Democrats the political upper hand on border security after the GOP withdrew from the original border agreement that they had demanded.
Over the past few days, as Senate Republicans have been debating their uneasy political situation in meeting after meeting, a vocal faction of McConnell’s detractors has been more outspoken, with some even demanding for his removal.
McConnell, who splits the GOP over Ukraine aid, is “willing to take the heat.”
However, the vote on Sunday was 67-27 in favor of advancing the legislation; 18 Republicans had previously voted against it, but Mullin had changed his mind and now supported the package, which had been stripped of border security elements.
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), John Thune (S.D.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Todd Young (Ind.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Joni Ernst (Iowa), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Tex.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) are among the other Republicans who support the aid bill in addition to Mullin, McConnell, Tillis, and Murkowski.