House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is unlikely to take up the bill if it ultimately passes the Senate, after many far-right lawmakers set a limit to sending funds to Ukraine to fight a Russian invasion.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said an “obvious choice” to improve the bill's chances in the House would be for Democrats to use a discharge petition to circumvent Johnson's wishes. Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said discussions are underway with House lawmakers to pursue such a path.
As Western aid stalls, Ukrainian troops run out of artillery shells
The legislation, which also contains more than $9 billion in humanitarian aid and additional funds for the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, had been delayed during months-long negotiations to pair it with bipartisan border reforms, which most Republicans voted to block it last week. after Trump expressed his displeasure with the effort.
Trump weighed in on the proceedings again after some Republicans distanced themselves from his remarks at a campaign rally on Saturday, when he said he would not uphold the NATO treaty between the United States and its allies.
Trump said he told the president of a NATO country that he “would not protect” his country if Russia attacked it, because his country was not spending enough on its defense. “In fact, I would encourage [Russia] do what they want,” Trump told this president.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, called the comments “frankly frightening” and said they would embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war against Ukraine. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said Trump was “signaling” to Putin that he would “hand over” Ukraine to him if he became president.
“Everything Trump says guarantees that this war will continue, at least until the next election,” Murphy said.
Senators reaffirmed their commitment to NATO and sending $60 billion in aid to Ukraine in the Senate. Ukraine is not a member of the treaty, but many NATO member countries have banded together to help the European nation repel the Russian invasion.
“I know it has become very fashionable in some circles to neglect the global interests that we have as a world power,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has pushed his conference to provide aid to Ukraine. Senate Chamber Sunday. “To deplore the engagement that has sustained the longest drought of great power conflict in human history. This is useless work for idle minds, and it has no place in the United States Senate. »
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters that suggesting throwing NATO allies “to the Russian wolves” is unwarranted.
Several Republicans said they did not believe Trump was suggesting he would support an attack on a NATO ally, but was simply encouraging them to pay their share. “Any attack on a NATO ally would have devastating consequences for the American men and women who would be deployed to defend them,” Tillis said.
“I don’t think he’s going to pull out of NATO,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally, said Sunday. “I think he’s trying to make a point. This doesn't worry me at all.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would slow down passage of the foreign aid bill as much as possible, delaying the final vote. “We don’t have $100 billion to give to anyone,” Paul said, referring to the U.S. debt.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the only member of the Democratic caucus to vote against the aid on Sunday, citing the high number of civilian deaths and the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza.
In the absence of agreement from all senators to move forward more quickly, the bill will have to be voted on again Monday evening, with an additional 60 hours of debate, before moving to a vote on final adoption, likely early Wednesday. Morning.
Republican senators are deeply divided on how to proceed on the aid package to Israel and Ukraine, with some critics saying McConnell has led them into a political box, in which Democrats have claimed political advantage on the matter. border security after the Republican Party defected from the border deal. » they first asked.
A vocal faction of McConnell critics has grown louder in recent days, with a handful even calling for his ouster, as Senate Republicans gathered in meeting after meeting to discuss the uncomfortable political situation in which they are located.
McConnell 'ready to take pressure' on Ukraine aid that divides GOP
But on Sunday, the vote was 67-27 in favor of moving the bill forward; 18 Republicans now support the package lacking border security measures after Mullin reversed his no vote from last week to support it.
Besides Mullin, McConnell, Tillis and Murkowski, other Republicans supporting the relief bill are Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), John Thune (S.D.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Roger Wicker (Miss. .), Susan Collins (Maine), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Todd Young (Ind.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Joni Ernst (Iowa), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Mike Rounds (SD), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Tex.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.).