Senate Republicans prevent Ukraine, Israel aid measure from advancing in chamber

 December 8, 2023

Republicans in the Senate notched a significant victory on Wednesday by blocking consideration of a bill meant to deliver additional aid to Ukraine, as The Hill reports.

The lawmakers' opposition to the measure stemmed largely from the absence in the bill of any attempt to address the worsening crisis at the southern border.

As the outlet indicated, the final vote tally came to 49-51, with the chamber falling short of the 60 votes needed for the measure to come up for full consideration.

Joining the entire Republican delegation in opposing the measure's progress was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has made no secret of his reservations about the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country would have also received aid under the bill.

As NBC News noted, Sanders has gone on record with characterizations of Netanyahu's approach to the conflict with Hamas as “immoral” and “in violation of international law.”

Though most Republican senators are in support of aid to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region as well as for humanitarian assistance for Gaza – all things included in the bill – they also pledged to make good on an earlier vow to withhold votes unless sufficient border measures were also included.

President Joe Biden suffered a significant blow as a result of the vote, having expressed what he feels is the critical nature of sending more aid to Ukraine.

“This cannot wait. ...We cannot let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin win,” Biden declared, also lambasting Republicans for “playing chicken” by holding the package hostage to “partisan” border control measures.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lamented the outcome, saying during remarks on the chamber floor, “Why hold up Ukraine aid if they can't even present a border package that can pass the Senate?”

Schumer went on, “We are asking ourselves this question: Has border been nothing more than an excuse for the hard right to kill funding for Ukraine, and too many other Republican senators who are not part of the hard right are going along? I hope that's not true.”

Digging in with equal intensity on the other side of the aisle was Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who stated earlier in the week that Democrats needed to realize the entrenched nature of his party's position.

“I don't think they are taking us seriously enough],” Cornyn said of the GOP's border demands, according to The Hill.

He added, “It may take a failed cloture vote for them to realize we're serious, and we're prepared to do that,” and that was a pledge he and his colleagues fulfilled.

Notably, Schumer ultimately changed his vote on the procedural question to “no,” allowing for the possibility that the bill could be brought forward again in the future, and with both sides seeming to acknowledge for the need for further discussion on the impasse, only time will tell exactly when that might occur.