Ukraine and Israel aid bill inches ahead as divided GOP demands changes

A major emergency aid bill for Ukraine and Israel advanced in the Senate on Thursday, offering a glimmer of hope for action after a series of setbacks.

But there were hurdles as Republicans moved slowly, demanding changes and fighting internally over whether to support them.

In a show of bipartisan support, the Senate voted 67 to 32 to advance the bill, with 17 Republicans joining Democrats in moving it forward. The legislation would provide $60.1 billion to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to Israel and $10 billion to civilians in global conflicts. But many Republicans still withheld their support as they demanded changes to the package, and many opposed it outright.

“We hope to reach an agreement with our Republican colleagues on the amendments,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader. “We're going to continue to work on this bill until it's done.”

Some predicted Senate consideration could take days, and leaders in both parties expected to work through remaining disputes over the weekend. If it survives passage, the legislation faces even tougher challenges in the House, where a large group of Republicans strongly opposes it. However, supporters of the measure said Thursday's move suggested that an aid package that has been stalled for months may finally have a path to approval in Congress.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky called the vote “a very important first step in continuing support for Ukraine's victory and increasing our shared security.” Social media post In it he wrote: “It's a bad day for Putin, and a good day for democracy.”

Among other things, Senate Republicans are pushing for the possibility of including border controls in the package — despite voting Wednesday to block a version of the legislation that would include a bipartisan set of border controls. They spent much of Thursday haggling over what changes to seek.

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The tepid move is the latest manifestation of the contradictions that have rocked the GOP and stymied an emergency national defense spending bill. The Republicans are their party leader and its presidential candidate, former President Donald J. They clashed over how to deal with international crises without angering Trump.

At Senate Republicans' opening Wednesday, Mr. Schumer has signaled that he is likely to support moving forward with a clean foreign aid bill without border provisions, as long as he has the opportunity to propose changes to the terms agreed to in principle. Leaders on both sides were confident of gaining enough support to move the move forward quickly.

But their optimism soon gave way to despair, leaving Republicans in a familiar slump, torn between rival factions and unable to decide how to proceed. They spent Wednesday afternoon and evening fighting over which amendments to insist on — and some privately arguing that the bill should not be allowed to move forward.

As of Thursday morning, GOP senators still hadn't settled on a way. However, a midday vote removed the immediate deadlock and allowed supporters to breathe a momentary sigh of relief as the remaining gap narrowed.

Republican senators are divided, with some staunchly supporting sending new military aid to Ukraine to fight Russian aggression, while those on the right strongly oppose doing so. Some GOP senators who support aid have criticized Mr. Given Trump's opposition, Democrats worry that doing so without exacting a price would compromise them politically in an election year.

“Putin believes that failure to take this up will happen this week, and I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that,” said one of them, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

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But other Republicans who championed aid for Ukraine continued to withhold their support. They include Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma. Mr. Lankford has spent the past four months negotiating a bipartisan deal to tie Ukraine funding to border security measures, a trade-off that Republicans had sought, which Republicans rejected Wednesday.

“You hurt Ukraine's cause by trying to minimize the border debate,” Mr. Graham said on the Senate floor, despite voting Wednesday to kill the Ukraine aid and border deal. “You can pass this bill without a margin, but it will go nowhere in the House.”

Among the border amendments brought by Republicans, Mr. It includes a measure that mimics Lankford's border deal and a more stringent immigration enforcement bill that House Republicans passed last spring. Mr. Graham wanted an amendment to limit the number of immigrants the United States could parol to 10,000 annually.

There have been talks about withdrawing or replacing the Flores settlement agreement, which sets limits on how long children can be held in detention centers, but no decision has been made, said Senate aides who described the discussions on condition of anonymity. Do you want to continue the project?

Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, who voted to advance the measure on Thursday, also said he intends to vote to scale back the humanitarian aid portion of the bill to help Ukrainian and Palestinian citizens.

Other Republicans said they would oppose any changes to the measure.

“That would be window dressing,” Senator Mike Brown, Republican of Indiana, said of the changes being discussed.

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Democrats also have a wish list of changes. Nearly 20 Democratic senators, most of them on the left wing of the party, have signed on to a proposal that requires recipients of security assistance to use weapons in accordance with US law, international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict. Blocks efforts to send humanitarian aid to civilians. Although the measure did not specifically mention Israel, it was inspired by senators' concerns about the country's bombing of the Gaza Strip in violation of international law.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, voted against advancing the bill, accusing it of sending unconditional military aid to Israel amid massive civilian deaths in Gaza.

Republican opponents vowed to make the process as long and painful as possible.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said, “I insist every minute of every day. “I want to be here for a week because I want to talk about what a disaster the bill is and how wrong it is to send our money to other countries before we fix our own problems.”

Carl Hulse Contributed report.

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