Updated Apr 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Senate sends sweeping foreign aid package to Biden's desk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) joins Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the U.S. Capitol in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Senate is sending to President Biden's desk the sweeping, House-passed foreign aid package with tens of billions of dollars for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — as well as a potential ban on TikTok.

Why it matters: Eight months after Biden requested tens of billions in emergency funding and four months after he promised he wouldn't "walk away from Ukraine," he can make good on his promise to U.S. allies.

  • The bill passed the Senate 79 to 18.
  • There were 15 Republicans who voted against the bill.
  • Nine Republicans flipped to a yes vote, after voting against the foreign aid package that passed the Senate in February.

Zoom out: The process has laid bare some of the most significant rifts within both the Republican and the Democratic parties — and shifts in how leaders view the U.S.'s role on the world stage.

  • It has been a grueling several months of congressional negotiations in the middle of ongoing crises in Gaza and Ukraine as well as the looming threat of China in the Indo-Pacific.
  • "So much of the hesitation and short-sightedness that has delayed this moment is premised on sheer fiction," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the floor on Tuesday morning. "I take no pleasure in rebutting misguided fantasies."
  • Rare bipartisan votes in both chambers ultimately delivered the long-delayed aid.

By the numbers: The bill includes $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and Palestinians, $8.12 billion for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.

  • The Israel portion contains roughly $9.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Gaza — a measure insisted on by Democrats.
  • At Republicans' request, the bill structures some of the Ukraine aid as a forgivable loan. It also will allow the U.S. to seize frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine.
  • This version of the bill also includes a potential ban on TikTok if the Chinese-owned company Bytedance does not divest from the social media app. They have up to a year to do so.

What to watch: Biden assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he will move quickly to send air defense weaponry once the Senate passed the bill.

  • Biden said in a statement he would sign the bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk on Wednesday.
  • Ukrainian troops desperately needed the logistical boost from the states.
  • "I think this spring and summer [Ukraine] will regain the momentum," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Axios, pointing to provision of long-range ATACMS missiles, in particular.

What they're saying: Biden said he would urgently sign the bill so the U.S. could begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week.

  • "The need is urgent: for Ukraine, facing unrelenting bombardment from Russia; for Israel, which just faced unprecedented attacks from Iran; for refugees and those impacted by conflicts and natural disasters around the world, including in Gaza, Sudan, and Haiti; and for our partners seeking security and stability in the Indo-Pacific," he said.
  • Zelensky expressed his gratitude to Senate leaders and Biden in a post to X, saying: "Ukraine's long-range capabilities, artillery, and air defense are critical tools for restoring just peace sooner."

The big picture: Congressional leadership has been rattled over the past several months of high-stakes wrangling and policy writing.

  • McConnell announced he would step down from leadership, and then vowed to fight the growing isolationist movement in his party — pointing to Ukraine as the latest example.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) job could still be in jeopardy over the ordeal, and he had to manage demands for border security measures and the political reality of getting any such bill through the Senate.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the highest-ranking elected Jewish official in the U.S., has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while contending with growing concern within his party over Israel's actions in Gaza following the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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