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Senate Passes $95-billion Foreign Aid Package That Faces Dismal Prospects in the House

Published: February 13, 2024
The Senate has passed the Omnibus bill despite it being rife with hundreds of millions of dollars in spending leakages for leftist programs and causes.
The U.S. Capitol Building on Dec. 22, 2022 in Washington, D.C.. (Image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

On Feb. 13, after months of negotiations that have deeply divided congressional Republicans, the Senate passed a controversial multi-billion dollar foreign aid package which many believe faces dismal prospects in the House since the package fails to earmark any funds to secure the southern border.

The $95.3 billion package passed on Tuesday 70-29 with nearly all Democrats voting in favor. The package would not have passed if not for the 22 Republicans that backed it.  

The bill includes $60.06 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to support Israel’s war against Hamas, $2.44 billion for operations around the Red Sea, $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, and $9.15 billion in humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other populations in conflict zones around the globe. 

The balance will go towards a number of other causes including $400 million that is being set aside to help nonprofits and places of worship make security enhancements to protect themselves from hate crimes. 

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “With this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waiver, will not falter, will not fail.”

However, the package faces numerous hurdles once it gets to the House, where hardline Republicans are expected to oppose the legislation.


Not a done deal

In a statement on Monday evening before the vote, Speaker Mike Johnson cast doubt on the legislation’s success.

“Now, in the absence of having any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters. America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo,” Johnson said. 

It could be weeks, if not months, before the legislation makes its way to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law, if it makes it there at all.

In a statement Biden urged the House to act quickly. 

“We cannot afford to wait any longer. The costs of inaction are rising every day, especially in Ukraine,” the president said, adding that, “Already, we are seeing reports of Ukrainian troops running out of ammunition on the front lines as Russian forces continue to attack and Putin continues to dream of subjugating the Ukrainian people.”

Schumer believes the legislation’s strong bipartisan support should put enough pressure on Johnson to advance it.


US defense contractors the big winners

A large portion of the funds identified in the bill to aid Ukraine are expected to be used to purchase munitions and air defense systems from U.S. contractors, thus the majority of those funds will remain in the United States.

“Tens of billions of dollars will fill Pentagon coffers to purchase new weapons from U.S. companies to refill inventories that have been tapped to help Ukraine, finance military operations and sign contracts for new weapons for Kyiv,” Politico reported. 

Both Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell have tried to sell the legislation as a job creator over the months it has been stalled in the Senate. 

Of the just over $60 billion for Ukraine, $48.4 of that will end up with the Pentagon of which roughly $20 billion of that will be used to purchase new weapons and equipment to refill U.S. military inventories that have been depleted by aiding Ukraine.

“Another $13.8 billion is earmarked for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program in which the Pentagon buys new weapons for the Ukrainian military directly from U.S. defense contractors,” Politico wrote, adding that, “Lawmakers also allocated $14.8 billion for heightened military presence in Europe as well as training and intelligence sharing with Ukraine.”

Following the passing of the legislation in the Senate, Schumer praised the package and said that the responsibility now falls on House Republicans to advance the bill swiftly.

However, speaker Johnson has said that the House will not advance the bill and will instead draft its own legislation that includes provisions to secure the southern border. 

“The mandate of national security supplemental legislation was to secure America’s own border before sending additional foreign aid around the world,” Johnson said. “It is what the American people demand and deserve.”

Republicans opposed to the funding package say they want legislation that places greater limits on the number of asylum seekers allowed into the country and limits on releases into the interior.
They also want an “emergency border authority” to mandate “Title 42-style expulsions of migrants when migration levels exceed 5,000 a day over a seven-day rolling average,” Fox News reported.