Senate finally passes aid bills worth billions to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of delay

Senate finally passes aid bills worth billions to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of delay

The US Senate on Tuesday evening finally sent a three-pronged aid package with military assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to President Joe Biden’s desk, ending months of delays that administration officials and top brass were increasingly blaming for Ukrainian battlefield casualties.

Senators voted 79-18 for the aid package in largely bipartisan fashion, with conservatives having mounted their opposition to the Ukraine portion of the bill similar to fellow Republicans in the US House of Representatives. The legislation — which also includes a ride-along bill that addresses a potential ban of Chinese-owned TikTok — pased late in the evening on Tuesday with 15 Republican Senators and three members of the Senate Democratic caucus voting against it.

“America will never shrink from its responsibility as a leader on the world stage,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said ahead of the bill’s passage on Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – an ardent supporter of Ukraine who pushed back against more nationalist forces in his party, including former president Donald Trump – stressed the necessity of America’s role in the world in a floor speech flanked by Democrats and Republicans.

“History will record that even as allies and partners may have worried about the depth of our resolve, even as Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran grew more convinced that our influence had run its course, and even as loud voices here at home insisted on abandoning the responsibilities of leadership – America stepped up. And the Senate held firm.”

President Biden said he would sign the legislation immediately.

Supporters of Ukraine rally outside the US Capitol after the Senate passed a foreign aid bill to help Kyiv defend against the Russian invasion (Getty Images)
Supporters of Ukraine rally outside the US Capitol after the Senate passed a foreign aid bill to help Kyiv defend against the Russian invasion (Getty Images)

“Tonight, a bipartisan majority in the Senate joined the House to answer history’s call at this critical inflection point,” he said in a statement. “Congress has passed my legislation to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the power of American leadership: we stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and oppression.”

The Senate originally approved this aid package in February. Months of disagreement between the Republican majority in the lower chamber and their minority in the Senate led to the upper chamber trying and failing to address border security and the asylum process via legislation, while the House went on to separate the legislation into several pieces and restructure the Ukraine portion around a loan system. All the while, experts warned that Ukraine was running out of capacity to defend itself against Russia’s missile and drone onslaught, part of the brutal Russian invasion of its neighbour that began in February 2022.

Senator Mitt Romney, a centrist Republican strongly supportive of the aid to Ukraine and Israel, addressed the delays caused by his party on Tuesday after a question from The Independent ahead of the final vote.

“Things don't move quickly,” he said of the congressional legislative process. “And in a democracy like ours, and the rules of our buildings, respective House and Senate, make things slow, but the right answer was reached with a resounding affirmative vote.”

Democrat Chris Murphy blamed the delays squarely on Mr Trump’s reported opposition to any further funding to Ukraine. Mr Trump has not officially outlined his stance on whether the US would continue military assistance under his watch, but Hungary’s prime minister has claimed that the ex-president told him privately that such aid would end.

“You know, we've got this big stinky problem of Donald Trump's hostility to Ukraine and his fealty to Vladimir Putin,” Mr Murphy told The Independent on Tuesday. “But we're showing that there is still massive bipartisan support for Ukraine that should, you know, put a little wind behind the sails of the folks that are on the ground.”

What’s in the full foreign aid package passed by the House:

Three pieces of legislation that were part of the national security supplemental passed by the Senate, as well as one piece of sidecar legislation dealing with Russia/Iran sanctions, passed the House on Saturday. Combined, they will provide tens of billions of dollars in security and military assistance to US allies in three regions.


The Ukraine portion of the bill is the largest. $60.8bn is earmarked for Ukraine in the bills passed on Saturday, with much being targeted to resupply vital air defences for the Ukrainian military. A Republican amendment to strip all non-defence spending from the bill failed.

Of the defence spending in the bill, $23bn is set aside to replenish US stockpiles drawn down by the effort to supply Ukraine, while another $11bn would support current US operations in eastern Europe. Nearly $14bn was targeted to help Ukraine purchase advanced weapon and defence systems.

A relatively smaller amount, $26m, was supplied to provide oversight efforts to ensure that US contributions to Ukraine are being disbursed correctly and fairly.

But Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the new legislation will have more consensus, noting how the legislation now has a loan aspect to Ukraine aid and that the bill freezes Russian assets and directs them to Ukraine.

“This is the best outcome we could hope for is to start seizing Russian assets,” he told The Independent. “That wasn’t in the Senate bill. Making part of it a loan gets Trump on board, which makes it more sustainable. Bad night for Putin.”


Much of the $26.38bn Israel bill is centred around restocking Israeli munitions required for its defences as well as the siege of Gaza, where Israel is attempting to wipe out Hamas militants. $4bn is included for resupplying the Iron Dome defensive grid, and $1.2bn is included for the so-called “Iron Beam”, a ground-based laser system used to take out drones and missiles.

$3.5bn is set aside to help Israel procure weapon systems, while nearly $7bn is marked for restocking US supplies and funding operations in the region.

But some Democrats expressed disappointment at not being able to have amendments to hold Israel accountable as its military campaign in Gaza after the October 7 attack has led to 34,000 deaths. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had proposed amendments to restore funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and require Israel not receive unfettered assistance.

“I think it’s beyond belief that, on an issue where the majority of the American people don’t want to continue to support Netanyahu’s war machine slaughter of women and children in Gaza, that we couldn’t even get an amendment to deal with that,” he toldThe Independent earlier in the day.

Mr Sanders’s colleague from Vermont Senator Peter Welch, who supports a ceasefire in Gaza, said that the Senate needed to vote.

“I would have preferred that we have separate votes on each of the items like the House did,” he said, but added that he thought Mr Biden was concerned about reducing civilian casualties.


One last segment of the foreign aid package deals with Taiwan and other US allies in the Indo-Pacific region such as the Philippines. This smaller ($8.12bn) bill sets aside $3.3bn for the construction of submarine port infrastructure around the Indo-Pacific and includes roughly $4bn in assistance to Taiwan and regional military partners of the US. Just over a half billion is also provided to directly strengthen US military assets in the region.

In addition, the bill would require ByteDance, the parent company that owns the video app TikTok, to either divest or face a ban in the United States.

At the same time, many senators expressed frustration that the bill came after six months of delays only to be passed nearly unchanged from the original requests to fund support for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific.

“Anytime you delay, then you discount the impact that the money can have,” Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, told The Independent, even though the US will send more than $60bn to Ukraine. “But it wasn't near as efficient as if we just kept the supply chains going.”

All the while, demonstrators holding Ukrainian flags stayed outside into the end of the night until after the vote.