The Senate on Sunday released a revised foreign aid bill offering military support for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after a bipartisan group of negotiators agreed to new immigration restrictions in the legislation.
But it’s unclear whether the roughly $118 billion legislation can pass Congress with Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., immediately declaring it “dead on arrival” in the House and vowing to move forward with a separate Israel aid bill that would leave Ukraine without additional U.S. assistance.
“As Ukraine runs low on ammunition to fend off [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brutal invasion, it is imperative we finally extend our support,” Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Patty Murray said in a statement. “Ukraine’s fate and so much more hangs in the balance — it’s time for Congress to act.”
Senate Republicans in December stalled votes on an earlier aid package, leading to two months of negotiations on unrelated immigration policy changes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he will tee up a procedural vote on the new aid package as soon as Wednesday, but it’s unclear whether it will even have the 60 votes needed to pass the upper chamber.
The bill includes $60 billion in security and economic aid for Ukraine, $48.4 billion of which is for military support. That includes $13.7 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $19.9 billion for the Pentagon to backfill weapons sent to Ukraine through U.S. stockpiles. There’s also $1.6 billion in Foreign Military Financing, allowing Ukraine and European countries impacted by Russia’s invasion to use the money to buy weapons from U.S. defense contractors.
The Biden administration in December used its last tranche of Ukraine aid funds from previous assistance packages.
A growing number of Republicans have become increasingly opposed to Ukraine aid, and many, including Johnson, claim the new bill’s immigration agreement “won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe.” The new aid bill is likely to lose Democratic support as well, with Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., accusing it of “dismantling our asylum system” and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., opposed to additional Israel aid.
“If we continue to fund [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s indiscriminate war, how can we, with a straight face, criticize Putin’s targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine as a war crime?” Sanders wrote in a statement.
The bill includes $10.6 billion for the Defense Department to continue providing munitions and other weapons to Israel after a four-month bombardment of Gaza that has displaced roughly 85% of the population and killed thousands of civilians. That amount includes $4 billion for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems and $1.2 billion to procure the Iron Beam laser system to counter short-range rocket threats.
There’s also another $3.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel and another $2 billion in the same account for Indo-Pacific security partners, including Taiwan.
Unlike the December bill, the new legislation adds another $1.9 billion specifically to backfill weapons sent to Taiwan from U.S. stockpiles, providing the Pentagon’s long-requested appropriation that will allow it to use presidential drawdown authority to quickly transfer weapons to Taipei.
The new bill adds another $2.4 billion for U.S. Central Command to continue countering a deluge of attacks from Iran-backed proxies amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The use of expensive missile systems like Tomahawks to counter Houthi attacks on commercial ships with less expensive drones and missiles has placed additional demands on U.S. munitions stockpiles.
Additionally, the bill adds $542 million for Indo-Pacific Command’s FY24 unfunded priorities list. It also retains $2.1 billion in funding for the submarine-industrial base aimed at helping the Navy meet its submarine production goals while preparing to transfer as many as five Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s as part of the AUKUS agreement.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.