The Senate voted for cloture on a $95 billion military assistance bill supporting Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and continued US military operations in the Red Sea. The 67-32 vote sets up a final vote by Wednesday, sending the bill to the House. This vote cleared the 60-vote filibuster threshold on the strength of 17 Republican votes.
This bill includes $60 million for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, among other expenses. It was originally attached to the disastrous “border security” bill that cratered on Monday.
READ: Mitch McConnell Urges GOP Senators to Vote Against the Border Security Bill
Republicans voting for cloture were Murkowski (AK), Sullivan (AK), Ernst (IA), Grassley (IA), Young (IN), McConnell (KY), Cassidy (LA), Kennedy (LA), Collins (ME), Wicker (MS), Tillis (NC), Rounds (SD), Thune (SD), Cornyn (TX), Romney (UT), and Capito (WV).
Next week’s vote will require another cloture vote, which is almost a given. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to open the bill to amendment. That will give some senators the opportunity to object to parts of the bill and rant about the absence of any border security measures.
I expect the final vote will be stronger, as it will attract some GOP votes from senators who favor supporting friendly countries but are engaged in performance art to protest the lack of a border security bill.
What happens in the House is anyone’s guess. I’m ready to go on record as nostalgic for the good old days when Kevin McCarthy was Speaker. I don’t think Mike Johnson has the skill or ability to manage the House with his razor-thin majority. The demand to attach two totally unrelated bills, military assistance and border security, in the same bill as some sort of suicide pact has to be one of the dumber things the House GOP has come up with recently. Perhaps not as dumb as the failure of the Mayorkas impeachment, but definitely in the ballpark. It was an idea that made no sense outside the context of Failure Theater, where a failed border security bill would serve as a fundraising gimmick.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has signaled the bill would face a tough road in the House, where many Republicans have drawn a hard line on no more Ukraine funding. He said this week he prefers to deal with the national security priorities “independently and separately,” meaning Israel and Ukraine aid would not be bundled together.
Gee, standalone bills. What ever will they think of next? But there are always problems.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) has already threatened to try to oust Johnson as speaker if he advances more money for Ukraine, using a maneuver that a different set of Republicans used last year to throw out then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). The House Republican leadership is currently eyeing a menu of options should the Senate pass the national-security package, including holding multiple votes on different portions of the legislation.
Rep. Greene is not going to boot Johnson from the Speakership. McCarthy was punted because of a deal he made with someone who wanted to cut his political throat. Johnson doesn’t have the threat of a single member demanding a vote to declare the speaker’s chair vacant, and the Democrats have indicated that voting to get rid of McCarthy was a strategic blunder.
Anything Johnson can do to add discipline to the funding process for Ukraine is welcome, and it is doubtful that even the most adamant Putin fan in the House will torpedo the bill.