US Senate passes Ukraine aid bill

After months of deadlock, the US Congress passed the 95 billion dollar aid bill for Ukraine and Israel 
Mandel NGAN / AFP - El presidente estadounidense, Joe Biden, le da la mano al presidente ucraniano, Volodymyr Zelensky, en la Oficina Oval de la Casa Blanca
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House - Mandel NGAN / AFP
  1. What is the new aid package for Ukraine?
  2. What about Israel?

The US Congress overwhelmingly approved - 79 votes out of 97 - a foreign aid package after months of delay, clearing the way for new funding for Ukraine amid advancing Russian invasion forces and increased military supplies. 

The Democratic-led Senate approved security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and the Indian Ocean for the second time this year. 

Imagen exterior del Capitolio de  Washington, Estados Unidos - <a  data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Depositphotos</a>
Exterior image of the Capitol in Washington, USA - Depositphotos

The package included four bills, allowing a vote on sending 95 billion dollars in aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and India, after House Republican leaders changed their position last week. The four bills were combined into a single package in the Senate to speed up the process. 

"This is a turning point in history. Western democracies face their greatest threat since the end of the Cold War," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

The largest of the four packages consists of 61 billion dollars in funding to Ukraine, 26 billion to Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones around the world, 8.12 billion to "counter communist China" in the Indo-Pacific, and a final legislative package that will include a possible ban on the TikTok app (controlled by the Chinese company, ByteDance), measures to allow the transfer to Ukraine of assets seized by Russia, and sanctions on Iran. 

Sede de ByteDance, empresa dueña de TikTok, en China - <a  data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Depositphotos</a>
Headquarters of ByteDance, owner of TikTok, in China - Depositphotos

What is the new aid package for Ukraine?

The package coming to Ukraine consists of 61 billion and military support. Biden has pledged to sign the bill once it reaches his desk, and his administration is preparing a 1 billion dollar military aid package for Ukraine that would be the first in the bill, Reuters reported. 

Both Senate Democratic and Republican leaders suggested that Congress should go a step further, signalling to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other foreign adversaries that the United States will continue to support Ukraine and other foreign partners.

The aid package could be the last approval for Ukraine before the White House, the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are in the midst of the election process, which would end in November with the polls. 

Most of the opposition to security assistance in both the House and Senate comes from members of the Republican Party who are sceptical of aid to Ukraine, who themselves have close ties to former US President Donald Trump, who highlighted "United States First" policies during his second term. 

Ciudadanos norteamericanos en un meeting de Donlad Trump, con el lema Make America Great Again - <a  data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Depositphotos</a>
US citizens at a Make America Great Again rally for Donald Trump - Depositphotos

Senate Republican leader Mitch McDonnell, who supports aid to Ukraine, attributed the delay to stiff Republican opposition that has been blocking the more than 113 billion additional dollars Washington has provided to Kiev since Russia's massive invasion began in February 2022. Part of Ukraine's economic aid, 10 billion dollars, would come in the form of loans, as Trump would have proposed. 

However, the bill allows the president to write off the loans from 2026. Analysts told Reuters that the influx of weapons will improve Kiev's ability to prevent Russian invaders from advancing eastwards.

The arms industry is closely watching the bill's progress, with US defence contractors considering major contracts to supply equipment to Ukraine and other US partners. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman are a few examples of companies receiving government contracts. 

What about Israel?

It is not yet clear what impact the funds allocated to Israel will have on the Gaza conflict. The Hebrew state receives billions of dollars in US security assistance every year, but it has never been used to defend itself against an Iranian attack. 

Camiones con ayuda humanitaria en la frontera con la Franja de Gaza, cerca del paso de Rafah - <a  data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Depositphotos</a>
Trucks with humanitarian aid at the border with the Gaza Strip near the Rafah crossing point - Depositphotos

Advocates hope the humanitarian aid will help Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who are indirectly suffering the consequences of Israel's responses to Hamas for the 7 October attack that killed 1,200 people. Gaza health authorities estimate that more than 34,000 civilians were killed in the Palestinian enclave in the operation.