Updated Feb 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

GOP rift on full display as Ukraine aid package passes Senate

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 12: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., attend a Menorah lighting to celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, in the U.S. Capitol

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate finally passed a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific early Tuesday morning.

Why it matters: The tortured proceedings have put on display a divided Republican party, with a growing faction embracing isolationist views at odds with the GOP establishment.

  • The past few weeks in the Senate have also made clear Trump's hold on the Republican party as he barrels toward the GOP presidential nomination.
  • One example: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a long-time supporter of foreign aid, committed to voting no on the package Monday evening — demanding aid be given in the form of a loan instead as Trump pushed for over the weekend.

Zoom in: The package passed 70-29, with 22 Republicans supporting it. Two Democrats — Sens. Peter Welch (Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) — opposed the bill over concerns around its aid for Israel, as did Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

  • The bill succeeded despite strong opposition from the former president, a vocal group of Senate conservatives bucking leadership and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) who has indicated he will not bring the bill to the floor — at least as is.
  • "This is not helping the people of Ukraine," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), one of the detractors who delayed the process. "This war is destroying their country, why add another $60 billion as fuel to the flames?"

By the numbers: The package includes $60 billion for in aid for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel and $4.8 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.

  • Another $10 billion would go toward humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, Ukraine and other populations.

What they’re saying: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told Axios that there "are some that are taking a cue from President Trump" and others who "would be opposed to this whether or not President Trump was for it."

  • Tillis admitted there are some who have to take their re-election races into consideration, but he believes a majority of the conference wants to support Ukraine.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has been consistent in his opposition to foreign aid, said he believes the Republican Party has been moving in his direction.
  • "The people up here are a bit more neocon-ish, more interventionist than the people at home," Paul told reporters — "up here" referring to the Senate. "I think it's shifted more towards people like me, at home."

How we got here: The bill's opponents took to the floor Monday and into the early hours Tuesday — filibustering and arguing against sending additional aid to Ukraine.

  • Many argued the priority should be securing the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • A small bipartisan group of senators held up the aid package for months trying to land a deal to appease the demands for stricter border policies from Republicans in the House and Senate.
  • The resulting bill failed in a matter of days. Republicans insisted it was not tough enough.
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