$96 Billion Ukraine-Israel Military Aid Bill Moves Closer to Passage Despite Trump's Opposition

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The Senate moved within striking distance of passing a $96 billion military aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and additional funds for the operations in the Red Sea. The bill passed the first test on Wednesday by a 67-32 vote. Tonight’s vote was 67-27. The seventeen GOP votes that put the bill over the initial hurdle added one vote, Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. Five Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

READ: $96 Billion Ukraine-Israel Assistance Bill Clears Major Senate Hurdle

The Republican senators voting in favor of the bill were Murkowski (AK), Sullivan (AK), Ernst (IA), Grassley (IA), Young (IN), Moran (KS), McConnell (KY), Cassidy (LA), Kennedy (LA), Collins (ME), Wicker (MS), Tillis (NC), Mullin (OK), Rounds (SD), Thune (SD), Cornyn (TX), Romney (UT), and Capito (WV).

A final vote will be scheduled once GOP amendments to the bill are sorted out. This will probably happen on Wednesday as the ability of individual senators to slow the process will be exhausted by then. Just as I predicted this vote would have more GOP votes than the initial cloture vote, I think the final bill will gain the votes of several Republicans who have withheld support in protest over the process.

Two outside events impacted the vote. Donald Trump encouraged senators to vote against the bill and demanded that the money be considered a loan.

This probably didn’t have much impact as the money in the bill was going to US companies.

The second event also involved Trump. At a campaign rally in South Carolina, he stated that US support of NATO allies was contingent upon them meeting the 2% of GDP defense spending threshold or “I would encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want.”

READ: Trump Slams Ukraine Aid and NATO In a Hot Mess of Malarkey

Tillis blamed Trump’s team rather than the former president’s long-established beef with NATO, saying “shame on his briefers” for not explaining the U.S. has made a commitment to assist any NATO country that is attacked.

Others were sharper in their criticism. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said it was a “stupid thing to say.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said it was “uncalled for.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he doesn’t take Trump “literally.”

Senator Rand Paul said, “We shouldn’t be sending anything overseas until we secure [our own] border.” That may be true, but this bill isn’t sending anything overseas, and border security hasn’t been worth stopping anything else from passing since Paul has been a senator, so it seems odd that this particular bill is the “line in the sand.”

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