Senate aims to go big in national security assistance package for key allies

Senate aims to go big in national security assistance package for key allies

The Senate is aiming to go big in its national security assistance package for key allies.

A bipartisan effort is emerging to send aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as new resources to the Southern border, according to the top negotiators on those issues. As chaos grips the House, they say, the Senate has to move ahead.

“I would envision a supplemental that would have funding for Israel, for Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression, funding to send a message to China about Taiwan, and funding to strengthen our wide-open borders,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the top appropriator on the Republican side.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said that a big assistance package “makes sense” provided people can keep out provisions that might sink the bill on partisan terms.

“Ukraine and Israel are urgent. They need immediate attention under the committees in my jurisdiction. Taiwan’s important also,” Cardin said in an interview. “Having additional resources on the border makes sense. I support that. As long as there’s no poison pills.”

Such a package could be quite large, and it’s not hard to envision the Biden administration’s ask nearing $100 billion given some of the previous requests. The Biden administration’s unfilled three-month request for Ukraine was $24 billion and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) estimated Israel will need roughly $10 billion, in addition to $8 billion for global humanitarian needs. An Israel-Ukraine-Taiwan-border package “could be a robust request,” Coons said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that Cardin, Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will lead negotiations for Senate Democrats; their counterparts on the GOP side are Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Collins (R-Maine), respectively.

Wicker said he wants to see the bill run through the end of fiscal 2024, alleviating the need to pass multiple bills in a presidential election year. Many Republicans only want to have a fight about Ukraine once before November 2024.

Cardin said if top Senate committee leaders plus Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can come to an agreement, it will go a long way to speeding things through the Senate. He said he hopes the Senate can move in the next couple of weeks.

Of course, that’s just half the battle: Moving that package through the House could prove difficult given conservative resistance to Ukraine funding. Speaker candidate Jim Jordan is more skeptical of Ukraine aid than most Republicans and some Republicans in the Senate warned on Tuesday they would not support linking Israel and Ukraine aid.

“I would support giving military aid to Taiwan conditioned on them taking serious steps in their own defense,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “Linking Israel to Ukraine aid, I would not support.”

Joe Gould contributed to this report.

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