Senate on Verge of Passing $95.3 Billion Ukraine, Israel Aid Package

The Senate’s final passage, expected for early Tuesday, comes amid intense GOP infighting over Ukraine.
The Senate’s final passage, expected for early Tuesday, comes amid intense GOP infighting over Ukraine.

Summary

The bill’s fate in the House uncertain amid a push for border provisions.

WASHINGTON—President Biden’s drive to send more aid to Ukraine was set to take a big step forward, with the Senate poised to pass a $95.3 billion package that also includes aid for Israel and other allies following months of political wrangling on Capitol Hill.

The Senate’s final passage, expected for early Tuesday, comes amid intense GOP infighting over Ukraine, which has been running short of supplies and manpower after a failed counteroffensive against Russia last year. The measure cleared a procedural hurdle late Monday, by a vote of 66 to 33, and a final vote was expected within hours.

Once the bill passes, it would go to the GOP-controlled House, where it faces an uncertain fate due to the greater power of Ukraine skeptics and influence of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who has opposed more aid and recently suggested turning the aid package into a loan. Some lawmakers are demanding a crackdown on the U.S. border as a condition for any aid, relitigating demands from last year, and Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) has kept his options open.

Proponents of the Senate bill argued the U.S. risks its own security and the current global order if it turns inward and ignores the rise of authoritarian forces around the world. More than a dozen Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), locked arms with Democrats on backing Ukraine as part of a package that also includes aid for Israel and Taiwan. They painted the vote in stark terms.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), who isn’t running for re-election, called the Ukraine measure “the most important vote we will ever take as U.S. senators." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said of opponents: “These modern-day Neville Chamberlains ignore the warnings of history: The appetites of autocrats are never-ending."

Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) choked up when he acknowledged that his constituents might not agree with his support for the aid package, but he felt it was a rare moment in his career when his vote truly mattered. “I believe in America First, but unfortunately America First means we have to engage in the world," Moran said. America’s enemies are on the march, he said, adding, “It’s always easier, I suppose, to look the other way."

Some Republican opponents described continued aid for the war efforts as folly, arguing that America doesn’t have the resources to keep supporting Kyiv—or that President Vladimir Putin would prevail anyway. Other GOP opponents insisted that the U.S. needed to better secure its own border before providing more aid overseas, trying to restart a legislative fight that stalled out last week after Republicans rejected as inadequate a bipartisan compromise devised by Sens. James Lankford (R., Okla.), Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D., Conn.).

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said that “this bill is the middle finger to every working man and woman in America." He said that it tells Americans, “We don’t care about you. We care more about Ukraine than we care about our southern border."

“If you’re concerned about the Ukrainian people, you ought to do everything you can to bring this war to an end," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), who opposed the bill. “Again, that’s not to say I’m supporting Putin. He’s an evil war criminal. But he will not lose, he’s not going to lose. And at some point in time, people here need to recognize that reality."

Congress took four separate votes to appropriate more than $110 billion for Ukraine in 2022, when Democrats controlled both chambers and the White House, but provided no money for Ukraine last year once Republicans won the House. The new aid package would contain the largest single infusion of aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, providing about $60 billion related to Ukraine, with much of that available through Sept. 30, 2025.

That includes some $20 billion to replenish U.S. stockpiles drawn down during earlier rounds of support to Ukraine, and $13.8 billion to help Ukraine buy weapons and munitions from the U.S. It also includes $7.85 billion to help sustain Ukraine’s government—a reduction from the $11.8 billion requested by the Biden administration—and a prohibition on using the funds to cover pensions for Ukrainians.

The bill also includes $14.1 billion for Israel, both for missile-defense systems and to help Israel finance other weaponry, and $9.15 billion to provide food, water and other humanitarian aid in hot spots including Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine. It provides $2.4 billion to support U.S. operations related to attacks by the Houthis on global shipping operations in the Red Sea. It wraps in a separate sanctions and anti-money-laundering measure aimed at cracking down on groups bringing deadly fentanyl into the U.S.

Many House Republicans expect Johnson, a Trump ally, to revive a push to link border security to the funding package.

“House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border," Johnson said in a statement on Monday. He said the House “will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters."

Support for Ukraine has softened after an early burst of support in 2022, with Republican backing shifting noticeably as Trump has railed against more aid. In a December 2023 Wall Street Journal poll, some 56% of Republicans said that the U.S. was already doing too much to help Ukraine, compared with 11% who said America wasn’t doing enough.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a military hawk who has opposed the Ukraine package due to lack of border provisions, said in a statement that the money to Ukraine should be converted into a loan, as suggested by Trump. “President Trump is right to insist that we think outside the box," said Graham, who is skipping the annual Munich Security Conference, where he had been scheduled to be a marquee attendee this weekend.

Those sentiments were repeated by other Republican lawmakers, who spoke by phone to Trump Monday night about the loan idea. “It’s a brilliant idea," said Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R., Okla.), who has taken criticism from Republicans for voting to advance the aid package.

Write to Siobhan Hughes at Siobhan.hughes@wsj.com and Lindsay Wise at lindsay.wise@wsj.com

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