10 senators helped advance Ukraine aid after voting against it

Nine Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate voted Tuesday to advance a package that includes aid for Ukraine and Israel, after opposing the legislation in a vote earlier this year.

The package advanced toward a final vote Tuesday in an 80-19 procedural vote. Overall, 31 Republicans voted to advance the package.

The package includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and global humanitarian assistance and $8 billion for allies in the Indo-Pacific. It also includes a series of national security items, headlined by a potential ban of the social media giant TikTok, or at least a forced divestment.

The nine Republicans who shifted their stance were: Sens. Katie Britt (Ala.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), James Lankford (Okla.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), Pete Ricketts (Neb.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).

All nine in February had voted against advancing the legislation. They also voted “no” on that earlier bill’s final passage.

Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) also voted Tuesday to advance the package.

In February, he voted against the aid bill on final passage but backed advancing it to a final vote.

“Senator Welch also voted to advance debate in February despite voting against the final bill, and voted to advance debate again today. It is not a reflection of his support of the legislation, but of his hope the Senate will live up to its reputation as the world’s greatest deliberative body,” a spokesperson for Welch said Tuesday.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the top GOP vote counter, told The Hill that he expects the vote totals to stay largely the same heading into the final vote Tuesday night.

“There could be in the margins, but it’ll be close to that,” he said.

Some of the members in that group of nine have lauded former President Trump for his help increasing that GOP total, especially for his suggestion to turn a portion of the Ukraine funding into a loan. That fourth bill also includes the REPO Act, which allows the Biden administration to seize billions of dollars in Russians assets being held by U.S. banks and transfer them to Ukraine to help rebuild the country.

“What’s overlooked here is President Trump helped a lot,” Mullin told reporters during the cloture vote. “Without the Lend-Lease being in there [and] the REPO Act … I don’t know if [Speaker Mike Johnson] could have ever moved it.”

“This is the right thing to do, 100 percent, but the issue that you had is … it’s political season. So politics had to go in front of the policy on this one. What messed up last time is the policy went in front of the politics,” Mullin continued. “Our approach this time was to make sure the politics are set, meaning that President Trump was on board, it’s something that can be passable, it’s something that can be explained and that Republicans and Democrats are both comfortable with voting for it.”

Thune agreed that the loan and REPO Act, along with other changes, helped bring some of those members along who held back their support the first time around, saying they were “additive.”

He also said that the world has “changed a lot in the last two months”, including in recent weeks after Iran’s attack on Israel and Ukraine dealing with dwindling munitions in their fight against Russia.

“There have been a number of factors that weigh into that, but each of those probably has a slight [factor],” Thune said.

A number of those nine Republicans confirmed they would also be voting “yes” on final passage, including Graham, Lankford, Mullin and Scott.

Welch was one of just three members who caucus with Senate Democrats who voted against the measure in February.

In Tuesday’s procedural vote, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were the only members who caucus with Democrats who voted against advancing the bill. They voted against advancing it because it includes unconditional aid for Israel.

This story was updated at 5:50 p.m. EDT

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