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U.S. Senate passes $95 billion bill to aid Ukraine, Israel


 , Updated 22:23, 13-Feb-2024

The Democrat-led U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion bill containing aid for Ukraine and Israel on Tuesday and sent the measure on to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the U.S. Senate vote to support a bill envisaging $61 billion in aid for Ukraine.

"American assistance brings just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world," he said on X.

Yet the package faces a deeply uncertain future in the House, where hardline Republicans criticize support for Ukraine and oppose the legislation.

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson cast new doubt on the package in a statement on Monday evening, making clear that it could be weeks or months before Congress sends the legislation to President Joe Biden's desk.

Senator John Thune said it was not clear what Johnson would do.

"The House, I assume, is going to move on something. Obviously, they're going to address Israel," Thune said.

Hardline Republicans predicted that the Senate legislation would be dead on arrival in the House.

"The bill before us today ... will never pass in the House, will never become law," Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida said in an early morning floor speech.

Progressive lawmakers have objected to sending offensive weaponry to Israel, and two Democrats, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Peter Welch of Vermont, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent of Vermont, voted against it.

"I cannot in good conscience support sending billions of additional taxpayer dollars for Prime Minister Netanyahu's military campaign in Gaza," Welch said. "It's a campaign that has killed and wounded a shocking number of civilians. It's created a massive humanitarian crisis."

The legislation includes $14 billion for Israel and $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific.

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: The U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., U.S. /CFP)

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