The United States Senate has passed a $95bn bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
The long-delayed measure won approval from the upper house of Congress early on Tuesday. The legislation will now head to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where its chances of becoming law are slim.
The bill, which would open the way for desperately needed funding for Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion, has been delayed for months by Republican hardliners under the influence of former President Donald Trump.
However, a bipartisan push supported by moderates from the party helped it pass in an all-night session in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The vote saw 22 Republicans voting with Democrats to pass the package 70-29.
The bill still faces an uncertain fate with several right-wing Republicans in the House already saying they will block it. They insist that the $61bn for Ukraine should be spent instead on domestic issues, such as border security.
House Speaker Mike Johnson has made it clear that it could be weeks or months before Congress sends the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk.
Supporters argued that abandoning Ukraine would embolden Russia and risk a wider pushback of global democracy.
Biden issued a statement on Tuesday urging the House to move swiftly.
“If we do not stand against tyrants who seek to conquer or carve up their neighbors’ territory, the consequences for America’s national security will be significant,” Biden said. “Our allies and adversaries alike will take note.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lauded senators who voted for the bill.
“It’s certainly been years, perhaps decades, since the Senate has passed a bill that so greatly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but the security of Western democracy,” he asserted.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also praised the passage of the legislation.
“The world is looking for American leadership to remain steadfast, help protect lives, and preserve freedom,” he wrote on X. He added that the bill would aid “global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world”.
The decision by the United States Senate to continue the support for our country and our warriors has been anticipated not only by us, but also by many other nations, particularly those in Europe.
The world is looking for American leadership to remain steadfast, help protect… pic.twitter.com/SJMahBBq3g
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 13, 2024
Aid from the US, Ukraine’s biggest financial supporter, is crucial for Kyiv as it seeks to repel Russia’s invasion. Ukrainian officials have warned of weapons shortages while aid is also needed to maintain the functioning of the government.
The European Union finally gave the green light to its own delayed 50-billion-euro ($54bn) aid package at the start of the month.
However, US aid for Ukraine faces powerful headwinds in the House, where Trump’s interests hold greater sway with Republicans, who control the chamber by a thin majority.
Al Jazeera’s White House correspondent Kimberly Halkett said that the House of Representatives are “probably not even going to debate it or even vote on it”.
“That’s because the speaker of the house, speaker Johnson says this is something that doesn’t address the priorities that his members, mainly the Republicans in the House of Representatives, to control that lower chamber, feel is important right now, and that is domestic priorities,” Halkett said.
“What we expect to hear from the US president is that he believes that the Republicans are playing politics with this legislation… It appears right now at least to be dead on arrival.”
As well as the $61bn for Ukraine, the bill includes $14bn for Israel’s war in Gaza and $4.83bn to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, to deter potential aggression by China.
The legislation would also provide $9.15bn in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones around the globe.