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US Senate to vote on Ukraine aid package next week

by Dmytro Basmat and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 2, 2024 3:37 AM 2 min read
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 13, 2023. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Congressional Integrity Project)
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After a months-long delay, the U.S. Senate is set to vote next week on a proposed Ukraine-Israel aid package, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Feb. 1.

"We cannot simply shirk from our responsibilities just because the task is difficult," Democratic Sen. Schumer said on the Senate floor. "These challenges at the border and Ukraine and the Middle East are just too great."

Schumer said he expects to schedule the vote for Wednesday, ahead of Congress' two-week Presidents' Day recess.

U.S. Senate negotiators had previously agreed on a deal that significantly restricts illegal migrant crossings at the southern border while also unblocking $61 billion in military assistance for Ukraine.

The $110 billion Israel-Ukraine funding bill has been stuck in Congress since autumn 2023.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate previously blocked a supplemental funding bill that included $61 billion in aid for Ukraine in a procedural vote held on Dec. 6, insisting that any further military aid must include major significant domestic border changes.

To move the package forward, U.S. President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats reportedly made several concessions when it comes to immigration policy and border security.

If the Senate votes in favor of the bill, it will move to the House of Representatives where a potential showdown between House Democrats and Republicans looms.

The agreement is likely to face stiff opposition from House Republicans, where Speaker Mike Johnson reportedly warned it would be "dead on arrival." House Republicans have demanded even stricter measures than their colleagues in the Senate, with some advocating against aid for Kyiv in principle.

Speaker Johnson stated that a decision from the House would ultimately come down to the border language in the bill presented by Senate negotiators.

Johnson also suggested the possibility that the bill that combines aid for Ukraine with border policy reform would likely be split up - an option the White House says will not be discussed.

Throughout his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the influential former President Donald Trump has urged Republicans in the House not to accept anything short of a "perfect deal" on border security.

Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican critic of the former president, explicitly said that Trump was trying to prevent any potential deal in order to keep the issue active in his electoral campaign.

"He's contacted members of Congress telling them that he doesn't want a border deal because he wants to run on this issue," said Romney.

CNN: Key US senators agree on border-Ukraine aid deal, to be unveiled next week
U.S. Senate negotiators had agreed on a deal that significantly restricts illegal migrant crossing at the southern border while also unblocking assistance for Ukraine, CNN reported on Jan. 26, citing undisclosed sources.

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