By Anadolu Agency
The Democratic-controlled Senate failed to advance US President Joe Biden’s over $105 billion spending package Wednesday, which largely consists of additional military aid for Ukraine and Israel.
The supplemental spending package failed to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle by a vote of 49-51. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, instead joined Republicans in opposition after taking issue with the package’s additional funding for Israel amid its war in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Sanders has voiced opposition to the additional aid, saying he voted against the package because “I do not believe that we should give the right-wing extremist Netanyahu government an additional $10.1 billion with no strings attached to continue their inhumane war against the Palestinian people.”
“Israel has the absolute right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists who attacked them on Oct. 7. They do not have the legal or moral right to kill thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women and children,” he said in a statement.
The $14.3 billion in funding for Israel — on top of nearly $4 billion in military assistance the US supplies the country annually — is part of a wider package proposed by Biden that includes over $61 billion for Ukraine. Funding is included for Biden’s other national security priorities.
The Senate vote Wednesday was to allow debate on the package to begin. Republicans have conditioned any support for the package on overhauls to US border policies.
Biden accused “extreme Republicans” of “playing chicken with our national security, holding Ukraine’s funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies.”
“Let me be clear: We need real solutions. I support real solutions at the border,” he said hours before Wednesday evening’s vote.
“Republicans think they can get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise. That’s not the answer. That’s not the answer. And now they’re willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process,” he added.
The fate of the spending package is now unclear.
Congress has previously approved about $111 billion in funding for Ukraine’s war effort since Russia invaded in February 2022, paying for the transfer and purchase of badly needed armaments. The White House has raised alarm that the funding is near complete exhaustion and is likely to run out by year’s end.
The House of Representatives passed in November a standalone approving the additional funding for Israel, but Democrats blocked the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act in the Senate.