A significant move towards providing substantial new aid to Ukraine was made by the US Senate on Sunday. However, this eagerly anticipated financial assistance may face outright rejection from the Trump-supporting Republicans in the opposite chamber of Congress.
On Sunday, the Senate, where Democrats hold a marginal majority, voted in favor of putting the bill proposed by Joe Biden’s administration up for a vote, with 67 votes to 27. The bill includes $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel in their fight against Hamas. It also earmarks funds for Taiwan, a strategic ally of the United States.
The date for the next vote in the upper house is yet to be determined, but it could take place early this week. However, in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a slim majority, the bill is expected to face strong resistance from right-wing representatives.
Two years into Russia’s invasion, US lawmakers, who are the primary military supporters of Ukraine, are still at odds over the approval of new funding.
The Democrats largely support the bill, while the Republicans are split between interventionist hawks who support Ukraine, and Donald Trump’s lieutenants who lean towards isolationism.
The latter group strongly opposes ongoing American aid to Ukraine, arguing that the US should not continue to spend billions of dollars until the US-Mexico border is secure. Even though the original bill included a migration policy reform, this was removed as the bill reached its critical stage on Sunday.
On Sunday, the bill received support from eighteen Republican senators. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, stated, “Today, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the world is watching the American Senate.”
“We haven’t equipped the brave people of Ukraine, Israel, or Taiwan with lethal equipment for philanthropic recognition (…). We do it because it’s in our own interest,” he further added.
“Ukraine is in dire need of resources. If America doesn’t send aid to Ukraine with this national security bill, Putin stands a good chance of succeeding,” warned Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate. He pointed out the rarity of a vote being held on a Super Bowl Sunday, a popular event in American football.
A campaign issue between Trump and Biden
The aid package, which has become a contentious issue in the presidential campaign, still faces numerous obstacles. While President Joe Biden is urgently calling for these funds, his predecessor Donald Trump is making increasingly hostile statements, claiming that if re-elected in November, he could resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict “in 24 hours,” without explaining how.
Even without holding office, the former president recently managed to derail a compromise on the aid package for Ukraine in Congress. On Saturday, he threatened that if he returned to the White House, he would not guarantee the protection of NATO countries against Russia unless they paid their fair share. He even suggested that he would “encourage” Moscow to attack them. Joe Biden described his comments as “distressing and dangerous” on Sunday.