US Senate Advances $40bln Ukraine Aid Package
TEHRAN (FNA)- The US Senate on Monday overwhelmingly advanced a $40 billion Ukraine aid package that easily passed the House last week but had stalled in the upper chamber because of an objection from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Senators voted 81 to 11 to end debate on a motion to proceed to the legislation, setting up a final vote on the bill for later in the week, The Hill reported.
It’s an important test of Republican support for continued US humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine after several prominent Republican voices, including former President Donald Trump, questioned the size of the $40 billion package.
Some Republicans, including Sen. Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), announced before the vote that they would not support it.
“I certainly don’t have anything against the Ukrainians. We want to see them win, but pumping more aid into that country when we’re not taking care of our own country — the best thing that [President Joe] Biden could do is stop the war that he’s waged on American industry,” Hagerty told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” over the weekend.
Hagerty said, “I know that there are other senators that are thinking very hard about this right now.”
Trump issued a statement Friday criticizing Congress for moving an aid package for Ukraine at a time when parents in the US are having trouble finding baby formula on store shelves due to a shortage of supplies.
“The Democrats are sending another $40 billion to Ukraine, yet America’s parents are struggling to even feed their children,” Trump announced in a statement through his Save America PAC.
The assistance package passed with a large majority in the House by a vote of 368 to 57. Republicans made up all of the “no” votes.
The legislation had been somewhat delayed by debate among Democrats over whether to attach $10 billion in additional COVID-19 funding.
Democratic leaders, however, eventually decided to move the Ukrainian money separately to prevent it from getting held up by a partisan battle to attach an amendment to limit asylum claims at the US-Mexico border to the coronavirus relief money.
In a conference call with reporters Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted the assistance package could pass the Senate by Wednesday. But there are several procedural hurdles remaining, and getting it done in the next few days will depend on getting cooperation from all 100 senators.
Paul, a frequent critic of foreign aid, delayed the package last week by insisting on adding language to expand the role of the Afghanistan inspector general to have oversight of Ukrainian assistance spending.