Schumer looks to expedite $95 billion Israel, Ukraine aid package through Senate

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is looking to quickly pass a $95 billion package with aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan roughly six months after President Biden made his request for additional aid in October 2023.

‘Now it’s the Senate’s turn, and the finish line is now in sight,’ Schumer said in a statement following the House’s passage of separate aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. As part of the package, it also passed a measure requiring the app TikTok to divest from Chinese-owned ByteDance, as well as a measure called the REPO Act, which would allow $5 billion in Russian assets held in U.S. banks to be transferred to Ukraine.

The House passed the measures on Saturday, more than two months after the Senate passed a different version of the foreign aid package. 

With this goal of swift Senate passage in mind, Schumer didn’t wait until the House had approved the package before he began working on it.

‘A few moments ago, Democrats and Republicans locked in an agreement enabling the Senate to finish work on the supplemental with the first vote on Tuesday afternoon,’ the majority leader previewed in his statement. 

‘The task before us is urgent. It is once again the Senate’s turn to make history,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in his own statement about the need to pass the aid. 

But as Schumer hopes to expedite the aid bills, discontent on both sides of the aisle threatens to upend his timeline.

According to a source familiar, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is leading a push to table the so-called ‘amendment tree,’ which would prevent Schumer from predetermining which amendments would be considered. Instead, it would allow senators to take their amendments to the chamber floor in regular order. In Senate terms, ‘filling the amendment tree’ refers to a process by which a certain number and type of amendments are offered under Senate precedents. Once these amendments are offered and the ‘tree is filled,’ no other amendments are allowed.

One of the amendments Lee wants to see implemented in the package is a provision requiring Ukraine to repay the aid, some of which would be granted in the form of a loan, which would be eligible to be forgiven under the House-passed measure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is supportive of this effort, signaling potential bipartisan backing, the source said. Sanders dislikes the package for his own reasons and plans to offer his own amendments to it.

Sanders’ two amendments include one to stop ‘unfettered military aid to Netanyahu’s war machine’ and another that would restore funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency ‘so that children in Gaza don’t starve.’

If the senators are successful in preventing the amendment tree being filled by Schumer, preventing consideration of other amendments, the voting process would be lengthened. And if any amendments were to pass, the bills would need to be reconsidered by the House.

It’s unclear what level of support they have garnered for this effort. It would take a simple majority of 51 votes to table the amendment tree. 

Despite this opposition to the current package, a senior GOP Senate source told Fox News Digital that the previous aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan passed with 70 votes. Only 29 voted against it. And while certain changes have been made, the source said the bills are likely to move quickly as Schumer intends.

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