Over the weekend, Donald Trump urged senators to reconsider providing additional unconditional U.S. foreign aid. Despite his pleas, a group of over a dozen Republicans defied him on Sunday and pushed forward with a bill that would allocate $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
The foreign aid supplemental spending bill, which does not include border provisions, advanced with a Senate vote of 67-27, bringing it closer to passage. However, its final approval is not certain yet, as leaders have not yet reached an agreement on border amendments demanded by GOP.
Republicans are resistant to the package, insisting on including border policy changes before supporting further aid to Ukraine. They recently blocked a bipartisan border-foreign aid package that had been negotiated for months, claiming that it didn’t adequately address migration limitations. However, securing unanimous consent from senators for border amendments remains a challenge.
“Listen up, U.S. Senate! Going forward, I have something to say,” Trump exclaimed on Truth Social. “I strongly believe that no country should receive foreign aid in the form of a giveaway. Instead, it should be provided as a loan, ensuring accountability.”
Many GOP senators didn’t seem to be concerned with Trump’s opposition as he had helped tank the bipartisan border-foreign aid bill and called for Republicans to block that legislation as well.
According to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), he believes that it is unlikely for them to lose any more members. Instead, he thinks that they have the potential to gain more members, especially those who were concerned about their ability to file amendments and have them heard.
On Sunday, the measure gained some ground as 18 Republicans voted in favor of moving it forward.
In his Sunday floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remained steadfast in his support for foreign aid, specifically for Ukraine, despite the increasing division within his conference. He emphasized the need for continued assistance, highlighting the importance of maintaining strong relationships with other nations.
“I am aware that there is a growing trend in certain circles to dismiss the global responsibilities that come with being a powerful nation. Some individuals lament the burdens of global leadership,” McConnell expressed. “However, this mindset is unproductive and has no place in the United States Senate.”
Trump made remarks over the weekend that angered lawmakers. During a rally on Saturday evening, he suggested that Russia should have the freedom to act as it wishes towards any NATO-member nation that fails to meet its spending commitment. Senate Democrats were understandably shocked by this comment, but Senate Republicans had mixed reactions to it.
Tillis placed the blame on Trump’s team instead of attributing it to the former president’s longstanding grudge against NATO. He expressed his disappointment in the briefers for failing to adequately explain that the U.S. has a commitment to support any NATO country that comes under attack.
Some legislators expressed stronger disapproval. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) described it as a “foolish remark.” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) deemed it as unnecessary. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) clarified that he does not interpret Trump’s words literally.
According to Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), none of us desire a war in Europe, and he believes that the President shares the same sentiment. It is evident that we will stand up for our NATO allies, and I am confident that the President does not want us to engage in a conflict with Russia.
Lawmakers in the Senate are still hopeful for a time agreement and swift amendment votes on the foreign aid bill. This bill has caused a cut into their previously scheduled two-week recess. Despite having scheduled international Congressional Delegations (CODELs) and commitments in their home states, they are holding out hope for progress.
However, the progress towards passing the infrastructure bill is being hindered by a single senator, Rand Paul. He has made it clear that he will object to any efforts to expedite the passage of the bill unless the issue of the southern border is addressed beforehand. As a result, without reaching a time agreement, the final approval of the bill cannot take place before Wednesday.
Rand Paul expressed his viewpoint on Sunday, emphasizing the need to prioritize securing our own border before sending anything overseas.