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US Congress poised to pass Ukraine aid, weapons coming soon


By Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Billions of dollars in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan advanced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, heading for a final vote after the House of Representatives abruptly ended a months-long stalemate and approved the assistance last week.

The Senate voted by an overwhelming 80 to 19 to advance the package of four bills passed by the House, far more than the 60 needed to pave the way for a vote on final passage as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.

One of the bills provides $61 billion for Ukraine, a second provides $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones around the world, and a third mandates $8.12 billion “to counter communist China” in the Indo-Pacific. A fourth includes a potential ban on the social media app TikTok, measures for the transfer of seized Russian assets to Ukraine and new sanctions on Iran.

President Joe Biden has promised to sign the measure into law as soon as it reaches his desk, and his administration is already preparing a $1 billion military aid package for Ukraine, the first to be sourced from the bill, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

After the procedural vote, the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders predicted that Congress had turned the corner in putting Russian President Vladimir Putin and other foreign adversaries on notice that Washington will continue supporting Ukraine and other foreign partners.

“This is an inflection point in history. Western democracy perhaps faced its greatest threat since the end of the Cold War,” Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in the Senate.

The aid package could be the last approved for Ukraine until after elections in November when the White House, House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs.

Almost all the “no” votes – 17 of the 19 – came from Republicans, many of them close allies of former U.S. President Donald Trump, a Ukraine aid skeptic who has stressed “America First” policies as he seeks a second term in November.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said his party has tended to be isolationist when a Democrat is in the White House, but he noted that well over half the Republican conference had voted to advance the bill.

When asked about complaints that his party’s objections meant it took six months for the aid to pass, McConnell told a news conference, “I would say better late than never.”

Some of the Ukraine money – $10 billion in economic support – comes in the form of a loan, which Trump had suggested. But the bill lets the president forgive the loan starting in 2026.


The influx of weapons should improve Kyiv’s chances of averting a major breakthrough in the east by Russian invaders, analysts said, although it would have been more helpful if the aid had come closer to when Biden requested it last year.

It was not immediately clear how the money for Israel would affect the conflict in Gaza. Israel already receives billions of dollars in annual U.S. security assistance.

Supporters of the new aid package hope the humanitarian assistance will help Palestinians in Gaza, which has been devastated by Israel’s campaign against Hamas to retaliate for Oct. 7 attacks that killed 1,200 people.

Gaza health authorities say the campaign has led to the deaths of more than 34,000 civilians in the Palestinian enclave.

It was the second time this year that the Senate passed security aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific. The last bill, more than two months ago, garnered 70% support in the 100-member chamber from Republicans and Democrats. But the House’s Republican leaders, who are more closely aligned with Trump, would not allow a vote on the foreign aid until last week.

The legislation’s progress has been closely watched by industry, with U.S. defense firms up for major contracts to supply equipment for Ukraine and other U.S. partners.

Experts expect the supplemental spending to boost the order backlog of RTX Corp along with other major companies that receive government contracts, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

The House passed the Ukraine funding by 311-112, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans, many of whom were bitterly opposed to further assistance for Kyiv. Only 101 Republicans voted for it, forcing Speaker Mike Johnson to rely on Democratic support and prompting calls for his ouster as House leader.

However, the House left Washington for a week-long recess, without triggering a vote to remove Johnson.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan; additional reporting by Makini Brice, Mike Stone and Steve Holland; editing by Don Durfee, Jonathan Oatis, David Gregorio and Richard Chang)

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