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Senate passes $95 billion package with aid for Ukraine and Israel, setting up showdown with the House

<i>Samuel Corum/Getty Images</i><br/>
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

By Clare Foran, Kristin Wilson, Morgan Rimmer and Ted Barrett, CNN

The Senate passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill with assistance for Ukraine and Israel in a vote early Tuesday morning, setting up a showdown with the House as Speaker Mike Johnson has said he does not plan to bring the bill to the floor.

The foreign aid package includes billions of dollars to support Ukraine and for security assistance for Israel, as well as humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine, among other priorities.

The bill passed the Senate despite Johnson’s criticism of the legislation and former President Donald Trump signaling opposition to the bill by arguing the US should stop providing foreign aid unless it is in the form of a loan. The Senate vote was 70 to 29 with 22 Republicans voting in favor, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“History settles every account,” McConnell said in a statement following the vote. “And today, on the value of American leadership and strength, history will record that the Senate did not blink.”

The bill includes $60 billion to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance and $4.8 billion to support regional partners in the Indo-Pacific region in addition to other policy provisions, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday that he is not planning to put the package on the House floor, setting up a major clash between the two chambers.

“I certainly don’t,” Johnson said when asked if he plans to put the bill on the floor. “Right now, we’re dealing with the appropriations process, we have immediate deadlines upon us and that’s where the attention is in the House in this moment.”

President Joe Biden called on House Republicans to hold a vote on the bill in remarks from the White House, saying that a “minority of the most extreme voices in the House,” should not be permitted to block the bill.

The president issued a stark warning, cautioning that if lawmakers fail to act, Russian President Vladimir Putin, “won’t limit himself just to Ukraine, and the costs for America and our allies and partners are going to rise.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Schumer, McConnell and “every US Senator who has supported continued assistance to Ukraine as we fight for freedom, democracy, and the values we all hold dear” in a statement Tuesday.

“For us in Ukraine, continued US assistance helps to save human lives from Russian terror. It means that life will continue in our cities and will triumph over war,” Zelensky said on X. “American assistance brings just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world.”

Bill faces Johnson’s opposition in the House

The Senate passed the legislation after Republicans blocked a broader bill last week that would have combined foreign aid with a bipartisan border deal. Republicans had initially demanded that border security be part of the bill, but went on to reject the bipartisan border deal amid forceful attacks on the measure by Trump and top House Republicans.

In a statement on Monday, Johnson criticized the foreign aid bill over its lack of border provisions, saying, the Senate “should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe.” Johnson had previously opposed the broader bill that did include border provisions. The speaker has characterized those provisions as insufficient, despite the fact that they were the product of bipartisan negotiations and included restrictive border measures.

“The House will have to figure out a path forward and they’ll have to do it their way, but we needed to start the process and we’ve done that,” Senate GOP Whip John Thune told reporters on Tuesday.

House Republicans debated several ideas to change the Senate-passed foreign aid package during a closed-door party meeting Tuesday night, including paring back money to Ukraine, multiple attendees told CNN.

An option that was discussed during the House GOP whips meeting was stripping the aid package of its humanitarian assistance and only including military aid for Ukraine, with the thinking that it could be more palatable to the Republican conference. Another idea was incorporating some of the funding into portions of an upcoming annual spending bill for the Pentagon.

No decisions have made been, however, and the issue is expected to be a topic of conversation at Wednesday’s larger House GOP conference meeting. While Johnson has made clear that he would not put the Senate aid passage on the floor in its current form, he may feel pressure to articulate a plan in order to head off potential Republican support for a so-called discharge petition.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries vowed to use “every available legislative tool to get comprehensive national security legislation over the finish line” in a letter to colleagues. Democrats are limited in their options, however, if Johnson does not bring the bill to the floor.

Democrats would need to get the support of a majority of the House — or 218 members when every seat is filled — to sign on to an effort to circumvent GOP leadership and force a floor vote. That effort, known on Capitol Hill as a discharge petition, rarely succeeds and would be difficult to pull off.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated passage of the legislation, saying in remarks on the floor, “It’s been years, perhaps decades, since the Senate passed a bill that so greatly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but the security of western democracy.”

“I believe that if Speaker Johnson brought this bill to the House floor, it will pass with the same strong bipartisan support,” Schumer said.

Trump’s stance on foreign aid looms

The Senate continued to move forward on the bill even as Trump argued the US should not grant foreign aid unless it is a loan, signaling opposition to the legislation. Trump has also indicated he would encourage Russian aggression against any NATO member country that doesn’t pay enough.

A number of Senate Republicans either defended or downplayed Trump’s NATO comments on Monday.

“I’m 100% behind him,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville said of Trump saying NATO members should be paying their dues or risk Putin invading their country.

The Alabama Republican also suggested European allies should be “very worried” about an invasion, saying they should protect themselves and not rely on the US, adding the country “can’t protect everybody.”

Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas said European allies who are worried about Trump’s comments need to “get over it.”

“You know, they need to get over it. They need to stand up and be tough. We need to secure our own border first. We need to take care of things here at home first. When we secure our own border, when we take care of home, great. Let’s help other people as well,” the Republican from Kansas said.

In the Senate, consideration of the bill crawled along for days as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky vowed to drag out the timeline in protest over the legislation.

Paul continued to dig in on Sunday, saying that he will hold out until “hell freezes over.” He indicated he is ready to hold the floor by speaking on the issue of national debt and other matters. “I love to talk. That’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said.

“We do this for a purpose,” Paul said. “I don’t like being here. … I’m not here because it’s fun, I’m here because I don’t think enough people are talking about the danger of the debt.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Annie Grayer, Sam Fossum, Melanie Zanona, DJ Judd and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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