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Senate takes up $95B foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

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(WASHINGTON) — The Senate on Tuesday has begun consideration of a package to deliver $95 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The legislation, which includes four bills, passed the House over the weekend with bipartisan support. President Joe Biden urged the Senate to quickly advance the measures to his desk.

The package provides roughly $26 billion for Israel, currently at war with Hamas in Gaza; as well as $61 billion for Ukraine and $8 billion for allies in the Indo-Pacific. A fourth bill would force a U.S. ban of TikTok if its Chinese parent company doesn’t sell it; impose sanctions on Russia, China and Iran; and seize Russian assets to help Ukraine rebuild from the war’s damage.

Speaking about the package Tuesday morning on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said “the time has come to finish the job to help our friends abroad once and for all” and encouraged his colleagues to do so “as expeditiously as possible.”

“Let us not delay this. Let us not prolong this. Let us not keep our friends along the world waiting for a moment longer,” Schumer said.

Schumer had earlier applauded the House passage of the bills as a “watershed moment for the defense of democracy” as he announced the Senate would cut its recess short to hold its first vote Tuesday on advancing the proposals. Final passage of the bills is expected sometime this week.

“To our friends in Ukraine, to our allies in NATO, to allies in Israel, and to civilians around the world in need of aid: rest assured America will deliver yet again,” Schumer said in a statement on Saturday.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has long been a vocal supporter of Ukraine aid, spoke on the floor Tuesday morning about the United States’ “global responsibilities” — including helping Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

“Today the Senate sits for a test on behalf of the entire nation. It is a test of American resolve. Our readiness, and our willingness to lead. And the stakes of failure are abundantly clear. Failure to help Ukraine stand against Russian aggression now means inviting escalation against our closest treaty allies and trading partners,” McConnell said.

McConnell added that the Senate “faces a test. And we must not fail it.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders said he wants to offer amendments to the bill to strip out offensive aid to Israel, calling its government “extremist.”

“As U.S. taxpayers, do we want to be complicit in [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s unprecedented and savage military campaign against the Palestinian people?” Sanders asked Tuesday of the unconditioned Israel aid.

Sanders said he “strongly supports” other elements of the package, including aid to Ukraine.

It’s been more than a year since Congress approved new aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders. The war has intensified in recent weeks, as more Russian strikes break through with Ukraine’s air defenses running low.

President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday to reiterate U.S. support for the nation. He said the administration will provide a new batch of support for Ukraine as soon as the bills get through Congress, with Zelenskyy saying in his own statement that “I have the assurance of [Biden] that it will be fast and powerful and will strengthen our anti-aircraft, long-range and artillery capabilities.”

Zelenskyy said he was “grateful” to Biden “for his unwavering support for Ukraine and for his true global leadership.”

The Ukrainian leader commended House Speaker Mike Johnson — whose position on Ukraine aid evolved from also requiring changes to border and immigration policy to working with Democrats to pass the latest bills — and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Biden first requested more assistance for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific last fall. The Senate passed a $95 billion bill in February but the legislation faced a logjam in the House as a coalition of Republican hard-liners grew opposed to sending more resources overseas without addressing domestic issues like immigration.

At the same time, GOP leaders like Johnson echoed those concerns and had pushed for major changes to immigration policy, though a sweeping deal in the Senate to tie foreign aid to such changes was opposed by former President Donald Trump and rejected by conservatives as insufficient.

Then, pressure increased on lawmakers to pass aid to overseas allies after Iran’s unprecedented attacks on Israel earlier this month, in retaliation for a strike on an Iranian consular complex in Syria, and as Russian forces continue to make offensive gains.

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Speaker Johnson, once opposed to more aid for Ukraine, said last week he was “willing” to stake his job on the issue as an ouster threat looms from fellow Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Thomas Massie and Paul Gosar.

Johnson earned bipartisan praise for the reversal.

“He tried to do what the, you know, say the Freedom Caucus wanted him to do. It wasn’t going to work in the Senate or the White House,” Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “At the end of the day, we were running out of time. Ukraine’s getting ready to fall.”

Johnson, McCaul said, “went through a transformation” on the issue.

ABC News’ Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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