U.S. Senate Blocks Israel, Ukraine Aid in Battle Over Immigration

On Wednesday, GOP senators blocked a request from the White House for $106 billion in emergency aid primarily for Israel and Ukraine, as conservatives balked after immigration reforms were excluded that they demanded as part of the package.

The vote marked a solid defeat for President Joe Biden, who earlier warned Congress that Russian President Vladimir Putin wouldn’t stop with a victory in Ukraine and could attack a NATO nation.

The package would include around $60 billion to help Ukraine keep up pressure on Russia during the chilly winter months and about $10 billion for Israel in its conflict with militant Hamas, in addition to some aid for Taiwan.

Democrat Senate leader Chuck Schumer had committed to voting later on, adding measures for border security demanded by the GOP to secure the 60 votes necessary to get it over the first procedural hurdle.

However, the 49-strong Republican minority in the 100-member member chamber voted together to block moving forward, pointing out a lack of government action on the estimated 10,000 migrants who cross from Mexico daily.

“Everyone has been very, very clear on this to say we’re standing firm. Now is the moment,” lead Republican negotiator on border and immigration issues, Senator James Lankford, said before the vote. “We’re completely out of control at the southern border, and it’s time to resolve this.”

The president has led the global coalition backing Kyiv. Still, support has continued to wane among Congressional Republicans, and the administration has warned it will run out of funds for more aid to Ukraine in weeks unless legislators act.

President Biden has been under pressure from progressives to reject sweeping conservative immigration demands — which they say are akin to the closure of the border — but vowed in an impassioned address that was televised he would accept “significant compromise.”

“This cannot wait. Frankly, I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place, where Republicans in Congress are willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for,” said Biden.

The president spoke after a video summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and G7 nation leaders to discuss how to solidify Western aid for Kyiv.

Zelenskyy warned G7 leaders that Moscow was counting on Western aid to “collapse”

Zelenskyy warned the leaders that Moscow was counting on the unity from Western leaders to “collapse” next year and said Russia has ramped up pressure on the front lines of the war.

However, the precarious prospects for the aid package had been apparent since a classified briefing on Ukraine on Tuesday for senators that saw several GOP senators walk out, enraged there was no talk of border security.

Zelenskyy had been set to address the meeting via a video link but had canceled at the last minute.

In the GOP-led House, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson voted against aid to Kyiv before taking the job but has made clear he won’t agree to send any more funding to Ukraine without “transformative” changes to Biden’s border policy.

Johnson, who is a Louisiana Republican, also declared any aid for Israel needs to be offset with cuts in spending, a policy Dems, most Republicans in the Senate, and the White House oppose.

Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat — who has frequently been a thorn in the side of the White House — voiced support for the package — but only because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged that amendments on border security would be able to be added in later.

“In the greatest country on Earth, we do not have to choose between protecting our homeland and defending our allies,” said Manchin.

In a separate announcement, the State Department announced a stopgap $175 million tranche of new aid for Ukraine Wednesday. The measure includes shells, ammunition, HIMARS rockets, and ammunition.