Apr 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Senate readies to close out months-long foreign aid saga

 Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) meets with Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (L) on Capitol Hill

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (left) meets with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Capitol Hill. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

The Senate is on the verge of sending $95 billion of foreign aid funding to President Biden's desk as soon as Tuesday as global politics continue to destabilize the Middle East and Ukraine.

Why it matters: Congress fought for months over how much Republicans were willing to continue its support of Ukraine and how Democrats wanted to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The big picture: The months-long process undermined Republican leadership in the Senate and the House, with both leaders forced to take votes with the minority of their conferences.

  • It showcased former President Trump's power over the GOP with his opposition helping to quickly kill the Senate's bipartisan border deal, which was meant to placate Republicans' demands on the issue.
  • It also revealed Trump's limits, with the bill now including a potential ban on TikTok if the Chinese-owned company Bytedance does not divest from the social media platform.

Zoom in: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's office worked over the weekend trying to meet the demands of small group of Republicans for a few amendment votes and time to debate the package.

  • Recess plans and Passover further complicated the scheduling.
  • The details of a deal are still being hashed out, but a final vote is expected before Wednesday.

What to watch: The package is expected to sail through the Senate sometime Tuesday — and as late as Wednesday— with some detractors.

  • More than half of Republican senators voted against the last multi-billion aid package, and some may again over the lack of border security measures. But others could flip this time around, sources tell Axios.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has indicated he plans to vote for the package. The foreign policy hawk shocked his colleagues by voting against the package last time around.
  • Graham credited Trump for getting the aid across the finish line, "His idea of making some of the aid a loan, not a grant, was really a turning point in the whole process," he told Axios, calling the loan idea "outcome determinative."

On the more than half of House Republicans who voted against the package, Graham said it's reflective of polling that shows about half of Republican voters being skeptical about continuing aid to Ukraine.

  • He called it a "miscalculation of not only what Putin wants, but the effect that it would have on China and Taiwan."

The bottom line: One way or another, the massive aid package is expected to soon be on Biden's desk — and the Pentagon is readying to quickly send much-needed weapons to Ukraine.

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