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Bill sending $95 billion in foreign aid faces an uncertain future in House even if it passes Senate

McConnell says the bill 'imposes strict new oversight measures on humanitarian assistance' but the bill doesn't include any provisions to pay for it.

Published: February 9, 2024 11:00pm

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed on Friday to push ahead with a foreign aid bill $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza humanitarian efforts, and Taiwan without any provisions for U.S. border security.

"The Senate will keep working on this bill until the job is done," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The legislation up for consideration no longer contains the language of the bipartisan border security deal that was reached after it was shot down during a procedural vote earlier this week. The no votes came mostly from Senate Republicans who opposed parts of the deal, arguing it wouldn't do enough to reduce illegal crossings at the southern border. 

Many Republicans opposed the threshold that would trigger a new emergency authority given to the president. Under the bill, the president would have authority to order the closure of the border if immigrant encounters reach an average of 5,000 per day over a seven day period but ports of entry would still be able to process a minimum of 1,400 immigrants each day.

Since then, McConnell has endorsed the foreign aid package without the border deal.

"The product before the Senate resolves significant shortcomings of the president’s request," he said. "It fully funds a Special Inspector General for Ukraine created by the NDAA last year, further expanding already unprecedented visibility into how U.S. assistance is being used," he said on the Senate floor.

"It imposes strict new oversight measures on humanitarian assistance and ensures that not a single penny of U.S. taxpayer funds goes to the U.N. agency whose employees stoke hatred in Gaza and participated in the slaughter of Jews in Israel," he also said.

The Democrat-led Senate is scheduled to recess for two weeks starting February 12. Schumer said on Friday that chamber leaders are working on an agreement regarding amendments and once it is reached, the legislation can move forward. 

The foreign aid bill, if it passes, does not contain provisions to cover its cost, so it faces an uncertain future in the GOP-led House.

“We’ll see what the Senate does,” Johnson said on Thursday, declining to take a position on the package. 

If history is an indicator of how the situation ultimately plays out, the bill would face opposition from House conservatives, who have said they do not want to pass additional foreign aid without a way to pay for it. Some conservatives are also opposed to providing additional funding for the war in Ukraine.

To date, the U.S. has reportedly spent more than $75 billion in Ukraine so far, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The current package would provide about $60 billion more. 

Should Johnson put the bill on the floor for a vote, there's a chance it could pass with enough Democrat votes to overcome opposition from some GOP House members. 

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