U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds a press conference after the Senate passed a continuing resolution to avoid a federal government shutdown on November 15, 2023, in Washington, U.S.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Senators voted Sunday to advance a $95 billion aid package to fund Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. It’s a positive sign that long-awaited foreign aid could win the votes after a weekend of slow negotiations.
“I can’t remember the last time the Senate met on Super Bowl Sunday, but as I’ve said all week, we will continue to work on this bill until the job is done,” Chuck said. Senate Majority Leader Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Sunday.
Sunday’s vote, which passed with 67 yes votes, is one of the last procedural hurdles before a final vote and a good indicator that the $95 billion bill is on track for success after days of back-and-forth discussions.
“I think we will pass this spending bill for Ukraine. We have already overcome several procedural hurdles requiring 60 votes. I think it will end up being 60 votes,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. , who was one of the lead negotiators for the bill, said optimistically in a Sunday interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Since Wednesday, lawmakers have been working on the Senate’s lengthy process, spending hours in negotiations followed by procedural votes and more negotiations. That process is likely to last until next week before a final vote that shortens senators’ planned two-week break before federal budget negotiations begin.
According to his spokesman, Schumer planned to provide televisions and pizza on Capitol Hill in the event that Sunday’s vote was included in the Super Bowl.
The process could be sped up if all 100 senators unanimously agree to speed up the timeline, but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been vocal about his intention to delay.
“I won’t object to the changes, but I will object to shortening the time,” Paul told NBC News on Friday. “They will struggle with this for another two or three days, we will finish them off because they are for someone else’s border and not our own. And we’ll see where the cards lie.”
On Sunday, Paul estimated that at the current pace, the final vote would likely take place late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
A $118 billion version of the bill failed in the Senate last Wednesday.
That proposal included border security provisions that Senate Republicans opposed, leading them to reject the deal. Republican opposition to $20 billion in border funding angered Senate negotiators who had been holding talks for four months to meet conservative demands for more border security conditions in President Joe Biden’s initial relief proposal in October.
Still, a few hours after the $118 billion bill failed, Schumer scrapped border conditions and voted again on a new $95 billion version of the borderless bill to at least win passage of foreign aid.
Some Republican senators are still unhappy with that compromise and have reconsidered the need for border security provisions, leading to political whiplash.
“If we’re going to secure our own border here in the United States, I said … we should help Ukraine,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said in a CNN interview on Sunday. “My problem is this: Before we do these things, we have to make Americans a priority again.”