Senate passes $95B foreign aid bill. Will it die in the House?

It took several months and a marathon session that ended in the predawn hours of Tuesday, but the Senate finally approved a $95 billion national security package, including aid for Ukraine and Israel.

But House Speaker Mike Johnson has indicated he won’t bring up the sweeping legislation for a vote.

So, what happens now?

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, pointing to the bipartisan 70-29 vote, is trying to turn up the heat on Johnson to take up the bill.

“Given the large, robust majority here in the Senate, it is clear if that bill is brought to the floor … it will pass,” Schumer said after the vote, which took place shortly after 6 a.m.

“But if the hard right kills this bill, it would be an enormous gift to Vladimir Putin, it would be a betrayal of our partners and allies,” he added.

The supplemental package includes $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, as well as funding for humanitarian aid involving Gaza and aid for Taiwan.

Johnson, who leads a GOP conference that includes strong opposition to more funding for Ukraine, said even before the final Senate vote he was unlikely to take it up.

He complained in a statement that the legislation doesn’t include language to address the southern border.

A previous legislative version did include a bipartisan border deal, which Republicans originally insisted upon.

But former President Donald Trump rejected it and so did Johnson.

“Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” he said.

Exactly what working its “own will” turns out to be, remains to be seen.

What could the House do?

Johnson could simply not act on the Senate bill, allowing it to die.

But there are Republicans who believe foreign aid needs to be approved, and Johnson himself has not ruled out funding for Ukraine.

He has also tried to pass a stand-alone aid bill for Israel, though it was defeated last week.

Johnson could try to separate parts of the Senate legislation, but that seems unlikely, given how complicated it could get.

Given his razor-thin majority, Johnson remains in a tenuous position.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican, previously warned that she would considering making a motion to vacate — try to oust Johnson from the speakership — if he tied Ukraine aid to a border deal.

But the border deal appears to be dead, so any border measures would likely need to be added as amendments.

There has been discussion of the rarely implemented discharge petition.

That would require a small group of Republicans to join with Democrats to get to 218 votes, forcing a floor vote on the foreign aid package.

It’s a lengthy and complicated process and the majority party’s members are rarely willing to break with leadership.

But there are dozens of Republicans who are leaving the House rather than running for reelection and some of them might be willing to engage in the effort.

The House’s top Democrat, Hakeem Jeffries, has indicated he’s open to the possibility.

He has said he is prepared “to use every available legislative tool” to get final approval for the national security legislation.

After the Senate vote on Tuesday, President Joe Biden urged the House to take action.

“I applaud the bipartisan coalition of Senators who came together to advance this agreement, and I urge the House to move on this with urgency,” he said in a statement.

The matter is now in the hands of Johnson, who has only been Speaker of the House for a few months.

The Senate is not scheduled to return into session until Feb. 26.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up