Majority of GOP senators vote against helping Ukraine


The bill passed the $1.5 trillion package on a 68-31 vote.

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Thursday night to fund the government for the next year and to provide billions in emergency aid to Ukraine. But more than three-fifths of the chamber's Republican members voted no.

The $1.5 trillion appropriations package came just in the nick of time; the federal government's current stopgap funding bill was set to expire at midnight on Friday. It consolidated a dozen Fiscal 2022 appropriations bills into one omnibus package, plus included $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and NATO allies who face a similar threat from Vladimir Putin's Russian regime.

It passed 68 to 31, with all 50 Democrats and 18 Republicans voting in favor.

Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Leahy lauded the legislation:

In total, this bill includes $730 billion in non-defense funding, which is a $46 billion increase over Fiscal Year 2021. This 6.7 percent increase is the largest in four years for non-defense programs, and it allows for significant investments in the American people that will expand the middle class. This bill also provides urgent funding for the people of Ukraine as they battle Putin’s immoral, unprovoked, and brutal invasion.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the top minority member of the Appropriations panel, also backed the plan, praising its $42 billion increase in defense spending and its investment in border security. "This is a good package, and I urge the President to sign it with haste," he urged.

But Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, repeatedly attempted to derail the bipartisan plan that had already passed the House of Representatives.

On Thursday, he unsuccessfully tried to force the Senate to separately pass the nearly $14 billion in Ukraine aid, falsely claiming that this would somehow be faster than passing the "dangerous" omnibus package.

"What in the hell are we doing here? I asked for the Senate to do a very simple thing: vote today on desperately needed aid for Ukraine, and Senate Democrats have blocked it," Scott said in an angry floor speech. "We could send this to the president's desk today, but Senate Democrats have said no because they're insisting that it be passed with the omnibus."

But because the House had not passed the Ukraine aid separately and that chamber was in recess, it was Scott's proposal that would have delayed enactment of the emergency funds — and could have forced a partial government shutdown to boot.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who also voted no, argued that the bill was too long and too expensive.

"Once again Congress is voting on a massive bill — 2,700 pages — that no one has had time to read, spends $1.5 trillion, and further mortgages our children's future. We just learned inflation hit a 40-year high at 7.9% — wiping out wage gains and making life more difficult," Johnson said in a press release. "Even though this bill funds many important priorities, I simply cannot support such a dysfunctional and harmful process."

The House passed the omnibus on Wednesday, with bipartisan support. But before the vote, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) and 172 House Republicans unsuccessfully tried to adjourn the session and send everyone home without passing the package. Their effort failed, 255-173.

The White House has strongly endorsed the package and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it immediately.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.