US Senate unveils bipartisan bill to aid Israel and Ukraine

The US Senate on Sunday unveiled a $118 billion bipartisan border security bill that would also provide aid to Ukraine and Israel following months of negotiations, but the measure faces an uncertain future amid opposition by Donald Trump and hardline Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said an initial vote on the bill would take place no later than Wednesday but faces opposition from both sides of the aisle.

In addition to $20.23 billion for border security, the bill included $60.06 billion to support Ukraine in its war with Russia, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $2.44 billion to US Central Command and the conflict in the Red Sea, and $4.83 billion to support US partners in the Indo-Pacific facing aggression from China, according to a Senate source.

An additional $10 billion would provide humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine, the source said.

The US would provide $4.83 billion to support key regional partners in the Indo-Pacific where tensions have risen between Taiwan and China, as well as $2.33 billion for Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s invasion and other refugees fleeing persecution, the source said.

Majority Leader of the US Senate Chuck Schumer (left) with President Isaac Herzog. October 15, 2023 (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

“The priorities in this bill are too important to ignore and too vital to allow politics to get in the way,” Schumer said in a statement. “The United States and our allies are facing multiple, complex and, in places, coordinated challenges from adversaries who seek to disrupt democracy and expand authoritarian influence around the globe.”

McConnell supportive of the negotiations

But other congressional Republicans have said President Joe Biden can enact many of the changes they want to immigration policy through executive action, though they had previously called for legislative action.

Biden had asked Congress in October to pass a measure providing additional funds for aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, as Ukraine tries to repel Russian forces and following the October 7 massacre by Hamas in Israel and a subsequent war.

That request was stalled by House Republicans’ insistence that it be tied to a shift in immigration policy.

Immigration is the second largest concern for Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Wednesday, and is a top issue for Republicans specifically. The US Border Patrol arrested about 2 million migrants at the border in fiscal year 2023.

Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in the November election, has campaigned heavily on opposition to immigration. House Republicans are also pushing ahead with an effort to impeach Biden’s top border official, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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