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Senate slowly forges ahead on foreign aid bill

Senate advances foreign aid package
Senate advances foreign aid package, but path forward for bill unclear 03:09

Washington — A $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific could be on its way to the House early next week after months of setbacks in the Senate. 

The Senate voted 64 to 19 on Friday night to officially begin debate on the foreign aid supplemental and is expected to work through the weekend after some Republicans demanded that the legislation include border security provisions, while others objected to it outright. 

The procedural vote sets up several days of debate and additional votes that are likely to bleed into the start of the Senate's two-week recess, which is supposed to begin Monday. 

"The Senate will keep working on this bill until the job is done," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Friday. 

On Thursday, the Senate crossed its first hurdle in getting the supplemental across the finish line after Republicans blocked a bipartisan border security deal that included the foreign aid. The foreign aid portion was then separated from the larger bill, but the Senate delayed a procedural vote to advance the stripped-down version that was expected to happen Wednesday night amid disagreements about how to proceed. 

"Yesterday the Senate cleared the first major procedural hurdle to passing the national security supplemental. It was a good and very important first step," Schumer said. 

But Democrats and Republicans did not yet have an agreement on amendments, which would speed up final passage, Schumer said. 

"Democrats are willing to consider reasonable and fair amendments," he said. 

Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said he would "object to anything speeding up this rotten foreign spending bill's passage." 

If the bill survives the remaining disputes and can pass the Senate, it still faces barriers in the House, where many Republicans are opposed to additional Ukraine aid. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, was noncommittal on Wednesday about the bill's future in the lower chamber. 

"We're allowing the process to play out and we'll handle it as it is sent over," Johnson told reporters. 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries indicated Thursday that Democrats could attempt to force a vote on the foreign aid bill. Democrats could use a procedural step known as a discharge petition to get around House GOP leaders, but it would require a handful of Republicans to sign on to it to give Democrats the 218 signatures required. A discharge petition enables lawmakers to force a vote on the House floor, but it can take days or weeks to put the measure to a vote.

"House Democrats are prepared to use every available legislative tool to make sure we get comprehensive national security legislation over the finish line," the New York Democrat said in a statement. 

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