The U.S. Senate voted on Dec. 13 to advance a 2024 defense spending bill totaling a record $886 billion.
The National Defense Authorization Act is an annual bill that Congress has approved on a bipartisan basis for over 60 years. The 2024 budget passed in the Senate by a vote of 87-13, and will now move on to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the bill in the coming days.
The bill includes a measure called the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, the only part of the budget that specifically extends aid to Ukraine. The initiative is scheduled to last through 2026, and the bill authorizes $300 million for the program through the end of the 2024 fiscal year, and for the year following.
The bill "will ensure America can hold the line against Russia," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said prior to the vote.
The funds the bill allocates for Ukraine fall far below the $61 billion in military aid that President Joe Biden has urged Congress to authorize before the end of the year. The Senate voted down the funding request on Dec. 6, with Republican legislators refusing to support aid to Ukraine unless Democrats agreed to aggressive restrictions on immigrants and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to the U.S. on Dec. 11-12 failed to secure promises of additional funds.
The defense budget that the Senate authorized on Dec. 13 allocates funds for weapons purchases, personnel pay raises, and foreign aid initiatives.