Senate releases $118 billion aid proposal for Israel, Ukraine

From left, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Senators on Sunday released the details of a $118.2 billion aid proposal for Ukraine, Israel and the southern U.S. border, after months of painstaking, closed-door negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said a vote is scheduled to pass the bill on Wednesday.

The publication of the bill marks a small victory for Senate negotiators who have gone back and forth for months on how to fund border security and whether to continue supporting Ukraine. President Joe Biden initially proposed the aid package in October.

But just as soon as the Senate back-patting is over, the proposal will face its next major battle: House Republicans.

Republican lawmakers have been preparing to greet the Senate bill with hostility.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., on Saturday announced a House proposal that would fund Israel alone, a blatant attempt to preempt the Senate’s broader foreign aid bill. Johnson said the House would vote on the bill next week.

The White House criticized the House’s counterproposal, deeming it a political stunt.

“We see it as a ploy that’s being put forward on the House side right now, as not being a serious effort to deal with the national security challenges America faces,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “From our perspective, the security of Israel should be sacred. It shouldn’t be part of any political game.”

Despite the White House’s scolding, the funding package has increasingly grown into a political pawn over the past few weeks.

As the election kicks into high gear, Republican lawmakers who once appeared ready to compromise have suddenly gone cold on the deal, aware that its passage would make a convenient victory for the Biden 2024 campaign.

Johnson has been a prime example of the tone shift.

In mid-January, he joined Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for what he called a “productive” meeting specifically about the border negotiations. After the meeting, in an expression of bipartisan hope, Johnson said the officials had reached a level of “consensus.”

But former president and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has reportedly put pressure on Republicans to torpedo the deal so that he can continue using the border crisis as a line of attack in his campaign.  

In a Sunday interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Johnson denied that Trump had any outside influence: “He’s not calling the shots. I am calling the shots for the House.”

But a week after Johnson’s optimistic meeting with Schumer and Biden, the speaker reversed course and expressed cynicism about the deal.

“If rumors about the contents of the draft proposal are true, it would have been dead on arrival in the House anyway,” Johnson wrote in a letter to his colleagues in late January.

The White House has called out the mood swing.

“Suddenly, we’ve heard a change of tune,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a recent briefing. “Actually tackle the problem instead of playing politics with it.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.


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