US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds a press conference after the Senate passed a continuing resolution to prevent a federal government shutdown, in Washington, US. , on November 15, 2023.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Senators voted Sunday to move forward with a $95 billion aid package to finance Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, a positive sign that the long-awaited foreign aid could have the votes needed to pass after a weekend of slow negotiations.
“I don't remember the last time the Senate was in session on Super Bowl Sunday, but as I've said all week, we're going to continue working on this bill until the work is done,” the majority leader said. of the Senate, Chuck. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday on the Senate floor.
Sunday's vote, which passed with 67 votes in favor, is one of the last procedural hurdles before a final vote, making it a good indicator that the $95 billion bill is headed to the success after days of back and forth conversations.
“I think we're going to pass this Ukraine spending bill. We've already cleared several procedural hurdles that require 60 votes. I think there will be 60 votes in the end,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. , who has been one of the bill's chief negotiators, said optimistically in an interview Sunday on CBS' “Face the Nation.”
Since Wednesday, lawmakers have been working through the Senate's tedious process of spending hours in negotiations, followed by procedural votes and more negotiations. These proceedings are likely to continue next week before a final vote is held, disrupting the scheduled two-week recess for senators before federal budget talks begin.
If the vote had extended to Sunday's Super Bowl, Schumer planned to host TVs and pizza at the Capitol, according to his spokesperson.
The process could be sped up if all 100 senators unanimously agree to speed up the deadline, but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has expressed his intention to delay it.
“I'm not going to oppose amendments, but I'm going to condense time,” Paul told NBC News on Friday. “They're going to fight this for two or three more days, we're going to beat them up for being on someone else's border and not ours. And we'll see where the cards lie.”
On Sunday, Paul estimated that, at the current pace, the final vote would likely take place late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
A $118 billion version of the bill already failed on the Senate floor last Wednesday.
That proposal had border security provisions that Senate Republicans opposed, leading them to scuttle the deal. Republican opposition to $20 billion in border funding upset Senate negotiators who had engaged in four months of talks to meet conservative demands for more border security terms in President Joe Biden's initial October aid proposal. .
Still, hours after the $118 billion bill was killed, Schumer removed the border terms and held another vote on a new, border-free version of the $95 billion bill, to at least getting foreign aid approved.
Some Republican senators are still dissatisfied with that commitment and have reconsidered the need for border security provisions, causing political whiplash.
“If we secure our own border here in the United States, I've said … we should help Ukraine,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in an interview with CNN on Sunday. “My problem is this: Before we do these things we have to make Americans a priority again.”