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Thursday, February 15, 2024

GOP Blocks Ukraine Funding Bill in US Senate Showdown

US Senate Republicans block bill for increased funding to Ukraine, citing concerns over border security and immigration reform, amid opposition from Democrats and former President Trump.

Republicans in the US Senate blocked a bill on Wednesday that would have allowed for more funding for Ukraine.

A majority of GOP legislators voted against the bill, according to The Hill. Democrats Ed Markey, Bob Menendez, Alex Padilla, and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Bernie Sanders – an independent from Vermont – joined the Republicans who refused to back the legislation.

The $118 billion package included $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.

The bill was touted by President Joe Biden as a compromise with the Republicans, who have refused to greenlight more money for Ukraine unless Biden agrees to comprehensive border security and immigration reform.

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Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, warned before the vote that there was “no real chance” for the bill to pass, as many GOP members argued that Biden’s offer was not enough to effectively end “the border crisis.” Other Republicans insisted that a border bill should not be tied to Ukraine aid.

“This is the most outrageous thing that I have been a part of in my 16 years in Congress,” Senator Chris Murphy told NBC News shortly after the vote. “We’ve learned that Trump is fully and completely in charge of the party, and they are rudderless otherwise.”

Murphy was referring to former President Donald Trump’s staunch opposition to Biden’s bill. Trump, who is on track to be the GOP candidate to challenge Biden in the presidential election in November, described the proposed deal as “a sophisticated trap” and urged Republicans to oppose it.

The failed vote comes as Ukraine continues to ask for additional funding and military aid following its failed 2023 counteroffensive in the conflict with Russia.

Last month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pleaded with the GOP, insisting that Congress would “only invite even more bloodshed and more chaos” if further aid for Kiev is not secured. Biden warned this week that “the clock is ticking” for Ukraine, and that further delays in aid would only help Russia.