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, with a dozen Republicans joining Democrats to push it forward, but roadblocks persisted as GOP senators moved slowly on the measure and fought internally over whether to kill it. .

The Senate voted 67 to 32 to advance a bill that would provide $60.1 billion to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to Israel and $10 billion in humanitarian aid to civilians in global conflicts. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, called for changes to the measure, although many Republicans still withheld their support.

Republicans are insisting on having the opportunity to include border controls in the package — despite voting Wednesday to block a version of the legislation that would have included a bipartisan package of border controls. After they huddled behind closed doors at the Capitol Thursday morning, fighting over which changes to seek, it's still unclear if — or when — they'll settle their disputes and move toward a final vote.

Some predict the process could take days.

“We hope to reach an agreement with our Republican colleagues on the amendments,” Mr. Schumer said. “We're going to continue to work on this bill until it's done.”

At Senate Republicans' opening Wednesday, Mr. Schumer has said 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 by evening, their confidence gave way to confusion as Republicans settled into a familiar crouch, 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 out — and it's unclear if they'll be able to resolve their differences anytime soon. But during Thursday's procedural vote, 17 Republican senators joined Democrats in voting to keep the bill alive anyway, removing an immediate obstruction and allowing the legislation's supporters to breathe a momentary sigh of relief.

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.

“I'm not giving up on the border,” Mr. Graham said in an interview, despite voting earlier Wednesday to kill the Ukraine aid and border deal.

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.

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 wanted to vote on scaling back the humanitarian aid portion of the bill to help Ukrainian and Palestinian citizens affected by the wars there.

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.

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.

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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 this 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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