Senate Defies Trump as It Moves Toward Passing Aid Bill

Senate Defies Trump as It Moves Toward Passing Aid Bill

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA

The Senate remains on track to pass a $95.3 billion foreign aid package this week after 18 Republicans joined with Democrats to advance the bill in a 67-27 vote on Sunday afternoon.

Among its provisions, the bill would deliver $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel and $9.2 billion for humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.

The progress comes despite opposition from former president and current GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who said over the weekend that any foreign aid should be structured as a loan and that the United States should stop giving money to other countries “without the hope of a payback” and without strings attached.

“One more GOP senator voted ‘yes’ on Sunday’s procedural vote than Thursday’s procedural vote on the bill,” CNN noted, calling it “a sign that GOP support for the measure has remained consistent and even expanded in recent days, despite Trump’s lobbying effort against US foreign aid and a previous package that included border policy changes and funding.”

The legislation still faces additional votes in the Senate, including two more procedural hurdles tonight and then 60 more hours of debate. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who opposes the spending on foreign aid, has warned about adding to the national debt and vowed to slow the bill’s progress as much as possible, meaning that final passage isn’t likely before Wednesday.

"Talking filibuster begins in earnest this afternoon!” Paul said on social media on Monday, one day after insisting he would hold out until “hell freezes over.”

If or when the package clears the Senate, it faces an uncertain future in the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson may be unwilling to bring it to a vote given the stiff opposition of many of his Republican members to providing more funding for Ukraine.

Supporters of the bill have reportedly had discussions about using a legislative tool called a discharge petition to force a House floor vote on the legislation. A majority of House members would have to sign the petition to force Johnson’s hand, meaning that some Republican help would be required. For more on the possible paths forward in the House, see here.