The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., as seen on June 30, 2023.

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., as seen on June 30, 2023. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday approved a long-languishing foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending the $95 billion bill to an uncertain fate in the House as Republicans vowed to quash the legislation.

Senators voted 70-29 in favor of the bill, with a coalition of Republicans breaking with their party to support giving $60 billion to Ukraine to fend off Russian invaders, $14 billion to Israel for its war in the Gaza Strip and nearly $5 billion to Taiwan and other partners in the Indo-Pacific region to deter China.

“These are the enormously high stakes of the supplemental package: our security, our values, our democracy,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “It is a down payment for the survival of Western democracy and the survival of American values.”

Opponents of the bill spoke on the Senate floor overnight to postpone passage of the legislation, pushing a final vote to about 5 a.m.

The aid had already been delayed for months after Senate Republicans forced Democrats to pair foreign assistance with measures to curb migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The resulting bipartisan deal collapsed last week under pressure from former President Donald Trump, who urged Republicans to reject it.

Some Republicans who voted against the deal on border security said they would also not vote for a standalone foreign aid package without a crackdown on immigration.

“I have been saying for months that helping Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan are extremely important national security imperatives for the United States,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “However, as I have been consistently saying, we must deal with our border first. The border is a national security nightmare.”

He proposed giving the aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as loans “as suggested by President Trump,” the Republican party’s presumptive nominee for president. Much of the bill allocates funds to be spent on replenishing weapons already sent to those countries and purchasing additional equipment from U.S. companies.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Monday night that he would not put the foreign aid legislation to a vote without immigration provisions. He indicated the House would continue “its own work” on the issue.

“The Senate did the right thing last week by rejecting the Ukraine-Taiwan-Gaza-Israel-Immigration legislation due to its insufficient border provisions and it should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe,” he said.

The Senate’s original bill, negotiated by Democrats and Republicans, would have restricted asylum laws, increased detention capacity and accelerated deportations. It was endorsed by a union representing more than 18,000 border agents.

The House narrowly passed its own immigration bill last year to resume construction of a border wall initiated by Trump, increase funding for border agents and border technology and place new restrictions on asylum seekers. The Senate refused to take up the measure and the White House threatened to veto it.

The political standoff over immigration has left Ukraine with diminished weapons and resources as Russia presses an offensive to capture more Ukrainian territory. The U.S. last announced new military aid for Ukrainian forces at the end of December.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., made the case on Monday for continuing to arm Ukraine, describing it as a critical investment in future American security.

“Allowing the war in Ukraine to fester will only prolong and deepen the instability already wrought and it puts at greater risk 100,000 U.S. service members defending NATO’s borders,” he said. “We must engage in the world to protect our own selves.”

Moran was among a group of senators that unsuccessfully tried to add immigration provisions for Afghan allies back into the legislation after they were removed amid Republican backlash to the broader immigration deal. The measures would have provided a path to U.S. residency for the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked alongside Americans in the Afghanistan war and are now living in immigration limbo in the U.S.

The standalone foreign assistance bill is largely focused on helping American allies and partners but also contains funding for U.S. forces overseas.

Nearly $15 billion supports the American military presence in Europe as well as training and intelligence-sharing with Ukraine. About $2.4 billion is earmarked for supporting American military operations in the Middle East, including restocking weapons used to strike Iran-affiliated militants targeting U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria and ships in the Red Sea.

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Svetlana Shkolnikova covers Congress for Stars and Stripes. She previously worked with the House Foreign Affairs Committee as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and spent four years as a general assignment reporter for The Record newspaper in New Jersey and the USA Today Network. A native of Belarus, she has also reported from Moscow, Russia.

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