INTERNATIONAL

US Senate clears long-delayed $95billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

In an early Tuesday morning vote, the US Senate approved a $95.3 billion foreign aid measure that includes assistance for Israel and war-torn Ukraine.

US Senate approved a $95.3 billion foreign aid measure that includes assistance for Israel and war-torn Ukraine. (AP )

Among other priorities, the foreign aid package contains billions of dollars for security aid for Israel, humanitarian help for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine, and support for Kyiv.

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The legislation will now be submitted to the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans, where there is little possibility that it would pass into law. US Speaker Mike Johnson has condemned the bill.

More than a dozen Republicans voted in favor of the package, which passed 70-29, with almost all Democrats present and supporters claiming that giving up on Ukraine may give Russian President Vladimir Putin more confidence and endanger international national security.

“It’s been years, perhaps decades, since the Senate has passed a bill that so greatly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but also the security of western democracy,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who worked closely with GOP leader Mitch McConnell on the legislation.

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What’s next?

However, the package’s future in the House is quite dubious since conservative Republicans who support former President Donald Trump – the front-runner for the Republican presidential candidate and an opponent of aiding Ukraine – oppose the proposal.

Speaker Johnson expressed fresh skepticism about the package in a statement on Monday evening, stating that Congress may not send the measure to President Joe Biden’s desk for weeks or months, if at all.

In recent months, McConnell has made Ukraine his top goal, despite strong opposition from his own GOP conference.

The legislation’s funds would be used to buy weapons and air defense systems manufactured in the United States, which are deemed critically necessary by the authorities as Russia continues to attack Ukraine. Along with other aid, it contains $8 billion for the Ukrainian government.

The bill would also allocate $9.2 billion for humanitarian aid to Gaza, $8 billion for Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific to oppose China, and $14 billion for Israel to fight Hamas.

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Are Republicans breaking with their party to support Ukraine aid?

At a South Carolina campaign rally last weekend, Trump hinted that if NATO allies failed to enhance their defense spending, he would allow Russia do “whatever the hell they want” to.

The Republican senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, endorsed a suggestion made by Trump on social media to provide loans to the country’s friends, such as Ukraine, rather than grants.

“A loan on friendly terms allows America, who is deeply in debt, a chance to get our money back and changes the paradigm of how we help others. President Trump is right to insist that we think outside the box,” Graham said.

However, the way the legislation has been delayed so far has infuriated the White House, a large number of congressional Democrats, and some of the surviving Republican supporters of aid to Ukraine.

“It is a down payment for the survival of western democracy and the survival of American values,” said Schumer. “Nothing — nothing — would make Putin happier right now than to see Congress waver in its support for Ukraine. Nothing would help him more on the battlefield.”

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