Two-thirds of the Democrat-led Senate voted on Thursday to advance a foreign aid package without the border security and immigration reforms from a bipartisan deal spurned by many Republicans.
At least 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture and start debate on the $95 billion measure. That threshold was surpassed with 67 senators, including 17 Republicans, voting in favor of moving forward while 32 members voted against it.
“The Senate has just voted to proceed to the national security supplemental. This is a good first step,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a post to X. “Failure to pass this bill would only embolden autocrats like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Chinese Leader] Xi [Jinping] who want nothing more than America’s decline.”
The bill retains sections that allocate funds for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other foreign priorities — including humanitarian aid — but dropped many sections, including the border-related provisions, that failed to clear a cloture vote on Wednesday.
In the ensuing days, senators are expected to discuss the prospect of tacking on amendments. A final vote could happen as early as next week, but not everyone is keen on working expeditiously to pass the foreign aid package.
“I’ll object to anything speeding up this rotten foreign spending bill’s passage,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on X, adding that it was a “terrible idea” to proceed with a bill that “tries to secure other countries’ borders before we secure our own.”
Thirty-one Republicans, including Paul, joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in voting against proceeding with the foreign aid package on Thursday.
Sanders cited objections to giving “$10 billion more dollars in U.S. military aid for the Netanyahu government to continue its horrific war against the Palestinian people,” as well as the prohibition on U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Israel accused the UNRWA employees of being involved in the Hamas terrorist attacks in October, prompting an investigation by the agency and a pause in previously allocated U.S. funds as the State Department reviews the allegations.
The White House, which vouched for the bipartisan Senate border deal, also voiced support for the foreign aid package to move forward. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) opposed the border compromise and said “we’ll see” about legislation with only foreign aid.