US Senate votes for multi-billion dollar aid package for Ukraine

House of Representatives is still missing
US Senate votes for multi-billion dollar aid package for Ukraine

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The billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine has cleared the next hurdle: the US Senate votes in favor of support. Now the whole thing goes to the House of Representatives – with an uncertain outcome. Because the Republicans are in the majority there.

The US Senate has approved a multi-billion dollar aid package for Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia. After weeks of negotiations, the Chamber of Parliament passed a corresponding bill early on Tuesday morning (local time). 70 of the 100 senators voted for it, including several Republicans, and 29 voted against it. This draft now goes to the other chamber of parliament, the House of Representatives. It is completely unclear whether the package will get through there. The Republicans have a slim majority in the House of Representatives, with representatives from the right wing of the party.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude after the decision in the Senate in an article on “American assistance brings a just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability,” he added.

The USA is Ukraine’s most important ally in the defense against the Russian invasion. Since the war began in February 2022, the government of US President Joe Biden has provided or promised military aid worth more than $44 billion (around €41 billion) for Kiev. At the end of December, the US Department of Defense announced what will be the last military aid package for Ukraine. Since then, the Ukrainian leadership has been waiting for new financial commitments and additional weapons and ammunition from the USA.

The aid package passed by the Senate includes around $60 billion (almost €56 billion) in aid for Ukraine, the majority of which is for military support. This is roughly the extent that Biden originally requested. The bill also includes $14 billion for Israel and billions in aid for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific partners.

Dispute over migration

In order to make progress after months of standstill, funds for border security were excluded from the package. Migration is the major controversial issue between Democrats and Republicans. Biden had already requested a package worth more than $100 billion from Congress in October – with aid for Ukraine, Israel, security support in the Indo-Pacific and money for US border security.

However, Republican hardliners in Congress blocked the package for months, arguing, among other things, that the US could not continue to spend money on a large scale so that Ukraine could defend its borders while there was an illegal migration crisis at the US borders. For months nothing happened, despite urgent appeals from the president and growing international alarm.

Although only a simple majority of 51 votes was needed, it had taken longer to get to this point because of Senate rules. In preliminary votes, 60 of the 100 senators had to agree in order for there to be a final vote in the congressional chamber. The Democratic group only has a thin majority in this chamber, so it was dependent on Republican votes during the negotiations.

The Republican former president and current presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has stirred up sentiment within his party’s ranks against the package – as he did against previous versions of the draft. There are particularly many close supporters of Trump among the Republicans in the House of Representatives, including the chairman of the chamber, Mike Johnson. In a statement late on Monday (local time), he made it clear that the House of Representatives must continue to “enforce its will” because the Senate has made “not a single change to border policy.” The bill is silent on the “most pressing problem” facing the country.

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