On Wednesday, Senate Republicans dealt a major blow to President Joe Biden’s plans for bolstering security in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region by blocking the approval of a $106 billion military and economic aid package.
The vote, which fell short of the necessary 60-vote threshold, came after Biden urged Congress to act quickly on approving the much-needed funds. “It’s stunning that we haven’t acted on this yet,” Biden said.
The requested aid package, which includes $100 billion for security assistance to Ukraine and Israel along with additional funds for other security needs in the Indo-Pacific region, has been met with resistance from some Republican lawmakers. They have raised concerns about the amount of assistance already given to Ukraine, which totals over $111 billion, and has demanded changes to U.S. border policy as a condition for their support.
Despite Biden’s willingness to make some compromises on border policy, Republicans have been steadfast in their demand for stricter measures. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been a proponent of aid to Ukraine, urged his colleagues to vote against the package, citing the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
“The situation unfolding at our southern border on President Biden’s watch is a crisis of historic proportions,” McConnell said in a speech in the Senate.
Senate Republicans just blocked Biden’s $66 billion money laundering to Ukraine bill.
For $66 billion the US could finish the border wall, build another border wall, and deport every illegal immigrant. pic.twitter.com/1kuXek9Apz
— Paul A. Szypula 🇺🇸 (@Bubblebathgirl) December 6, 2023
The record numbers of migrants crossing the border have become a major security concern for Republicans who argue that border authorities are unable to adequately screen them. While some agreement has been reached on raising the initial standard for migrants seeking asylum, a sticking point remains over the humanitarian parole program, which allows temporary admission of migrants.
In response to the failure to pass the aid package, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “a sad night for the Senate and America.” Meanwhile, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted against the package, stating that he did not support providing additional funds to the “right-wing extremist Netanyahu government” without any conditions on their actions towards Palestinians.
However, in an effort to provide some immediate assistance to Ukraine, the U.S. announced a $175 million military aid package on Wednesday. This includes guided missiles for HIMARS, anti-armor systems, and high-speed anti-radiation missiles.
According to Brigadier General Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, there is still over $1 billion available to replenish military stockpiles for weapons and equipment sent to Ukraine, and an additional $4.8 billion in drawdown authority.
The failure to pass the security aid package has raised questions about the future of U.S. support for Ukraine and other critical regions. With Republicans and Democrats unable to reach a compromise, it remains to be seen how the Biden administration will address these pressing security concerns.