February 24, 2024

By STEPHEN GROVES, MARY CLARE JALONICK, and LISA MASCARO (Related Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday voted to start work on a package deal of wartime funding for Ukraine, Israel and different U.S. allies, however doubts remained about assist from Republicans who earlier rejected a fastidiously negotiated compromise that additionally included border enforcement insurance policies.

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer known as the most recent vote a “good first step” and pledged that the Senate would “hold engaged on this invoice — till the job is completed.”

The laws’s path remained unsure as a result of Senate leaders had not agreed to a course of to restrict the controversy time for the invoice. It may take days, probably longer, for the Senate to succeed in a closing vote.

The vote to start work on the brand new package deal cleared 67-32, with 17 Republicans together with Democrats voting to maneuver ahead. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an unbiased from Vermont who opposes a lot of the help for Israel, voted in opposition to it.

The New York Democrat has tried to salvage $60 billion in help for Ukraine, in addition to roughly $35 billion for Israel, different allies and nationwide safety priorities, after the collapse this week of a bipartisan settlement to tie border enforcement insurance policies to the package deal. Republicans are divided about how one can proceed, and GOP leaders have been nonetheless scrambling to discover a plan that their senators may again.

Senate Republicans have been fractured and pissed off as Senate GOP chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tried to discover a method to squeeze the help for Ukraine by way of Congress. If the measure passes the Senate, it’s anticipated to be much more tough to win approval within the Republican-controlled Home, the place Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has been noncommittal on the help.

Some Republicans within the Senate have additionally vowed to do the whole lot they may to delay closing motion.

“I’ll object to something rushing up this rotten overseas spending invoice’s passage,” mentioned Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, on X.

The U.S. is already out of cash to ship missiles and ammunition to Kyiv, simply because the practically two-year-old struggle reaches an important juncture. Ukraine supporters say the drop-off in U.S. assist is already being felt on the battlefield and by civilians. Russia has renewed its dedication to the invasion with relentless assaults.

“There are folks in Ukraine proper now, within the peak of their winter, in trenches, being bombed and being killed,” mentioned Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

But lots of his Republican colleagues have expressed critical reservations about supporting a brand new spherical of funding for Ukraine. Even after rejecting the bipartisan border plan as inadequate, they’ve once more insisted on tying border measures to the overseas help.

“My precedence is border safety. It’s at all times been border safety. I believe we’d like a brand new invoice,” mentioned Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan.

It took Senate negotiators roughly three months of practically round the clock work to craft the border proposal rejected by Republican senators — a few of whom introduced their opposition inside minutes of the invoice textual content being launched.

Because the deal collapsed, Schumer, a New York Democrat, moved to strip the border provisions from the laws and create the standalone $95 billion package deal. It might ship $14 billion in army help to Israel, spend money on home protection manufacturing, present funding for allies in Asia, and allot $10 billion for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and different locations.

The revamped package deal consists of laws to authorize sanctions and anti-money laundering instruments in opposition to prison enterprises that site visitors fentanyl into the U.S. A separate part of the compromise border laws that will have supplied a long-awaited pathway to residency for tens of 1000’s of Afghan refugees was dropped within the slimmed-down invoice.