The Senate overwhelmingly passed 79-18 President Joe Biden’s $95 billion foreign aid request on Tuesday night to arm Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending it to the White House after six months of delays in Congress.

Biden submitted the request in October but Republican leaders in the Senate and House struggled to pass the package for more than six months amid increased opposition to Ukraine assistance within their caucuses.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not mince words at a Tuesday press conference where he rebuked what he called the “isolationist” wing of his party with ties to former President Donald Trump. McConnell blamed conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson for the “demonization of Ukraine” and Biden for submitting base defense budget requests he views as insufficient to counter Russia and China.

“Clearly on the Ukraine portion of this, we had difficulty on the Republican side,” said McConnell, who is stepping down as GOP leader at the end of the year. “We need to get our industrial base going. Fully aside from what we experienced in Ukraine, we needed to deal with the two big powers that are out there.”

The supplemental foreign aid package contains roughly $48 billion in Ukraine-related funding for the Pentagon, $14 billion in Israel military assistance, and about $4 billion to arm Taiwan and Indo-Pacific allies. It also includes economic and humanitarian aid, Russian asset seizures to rebuild Ukraine, Iran sanctions and a provision that could potentially result in a ban on the popular social media app TikTok.

Some $23 billion of the Ukraine funding would go toward replenishing weapons the U.S. sends to Ukraine. The Pentagon and lawmakers hope that the additional money pouring into the industrial base will help expand munitions production lines throughout the country.

The package also includes $3.3 billion in submarine industrial base funding as the Columbia and Virginia class programs remain behind schedule. Additionally, it provides $2.4 billion for U.S. Central Command to support its operations in the Middle East – in part to replenish nearly $1 billion in munitions used to counter Houthi attacks off Yemen’s Red Sea coast – and another $542 million for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

“The next thing to focus on is the Defense Department’s budget for next year,” McConnell told Defense News. “The president’s request has not been adequate. We need to make sure we’re doing more in defense through the regular appropriations process.”

“The kinds of things the supplemental allowed us to do would normally have been done in the regular appropriations process, but we didn’t have a high enough number. This supplemental actually rescued us in the sense that it allowed us to build up our industrial base and to create lots and lots of jobs.”

The Biden administration decided last year to continue funding Ukraine aid through supplemental spending requests to Congress despite growing Republican opposition, rather than as part of its base $886 billion defense budget for fiscal 2024. Congress locked in Biden’s $886 billion defense budget request as part of last year’s debt ceiling agreement, so the newly passed foreign aid package brings total FY24 defense spending to $953 billion.

Numerous Republican senators who voted against the Senate’s first iteration of the bill in February voted in favor of it on Tuesday after House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., opted to advance a similar package in the House last week. Johnson had refused to move the foreign aid bill for months. But he reversed course following a meeting with Trump and Iran’s subsequent missile and drone attack on Israel earlier this month.

Still, the delay has forced Ukrainian troops to ration ammunition even as Kyiv runs low on air defense to thwart Russian missile attacks. Now that Congress has passed additional aid, the Pentagon is assembling a $1 billion package for Ukraine with key artillery and munitions, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Ukraine has received a cumulative $113 billion in security and economic aid since Russia’s 2022 invasion. Israel receives an annual $3.8 billion in military assistance. And the fiscal 2024 government funding bill provided Taiwan with $300 million in Foreign Military Financing.

Israel aid

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not allow amendment votes from senators seeking to alter provisions on Ukraine and Israel aid. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, had sought to offer an amendment on Ukraine loan provisions while Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had hoped to secure a vote banning offensive military aid to Israel. Both senators voted against the bill.

The package includes $3.5 billion in Israel Foreign Military Financing for Israel and $4.4 billion to replenish the thousands of U.S. air-to-ground munitions and artillery shells it has dropped in Gaza over the last six months. It also includes another $4 billion to replenish the Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems to defend against Hamas and Iranian attacks.

The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, voted in favor of the bill but urged the Biden administration on Tuesday to enforce existing human rights regulations, such as the Leahy laws, to the Israel and other aid recipients.

“My greatest fear is that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the right-wing coalition, once they receive the American funds, will act irresponsibly,” Durbin said on the Senate floor. “They could resort to tactics that kill many innocent people, many Palestinian women and children who have no place to turn, no place to escape. These innocent people living in Gaza should not be victims in this war.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Monday he would have more to say on restricting U.S. aid to certain Israeli military units for human rights violations “in the days ahead.”

A State Department panel recommended in December that Blinken should restrict aid to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion for human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank, ProPublica reported last week.

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.

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