Senate votes to invoke cloture, advance $40B supplemental aid bill for Ukraine

Lawmakers in the Senate on Monday voted by a margin of 81-11 to invoke cloture and advance a bill that would provide $40 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, doing so over the strong objections of several prominent Republicans including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, as the Washington Examiner reports.

The measure would, as the outlet noted, appropriate an even larger amount of money than President Joe Biden sought in support of the war-torn country and would pay for military, medical, and humanitarian resources above and beyond what the United States has already sent since the conflict with Russia began in late February.

As Breitbart noted, though the bill’s advancement was supported in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner, several high-profile GOP senators stood opposed, including, Sens. Josh Hawley (MO), Marsha Blackburn (TN), and the aforementioned Paul.

Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) endeavored to get the bill swiftly through the upper chamber, with the latter expressing his hope last week that it would make immediate progress.

However, rapid approval of the package hit a serious snag when Paul and fellow GOP Sen. John Kennedy (LA) insisted that certain conditions be put in place before they would agree to its passage.

“My oath of office is to the U.S. constitution, not to any foreign nation. Congress is trying yet again to ram through a spending bill – one that I doubt anyone has actually read – and there’s no oversight included into how the money is being spent,” Paul wrote on Twitter, also declaring on the Senate floor last week, “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy.”

Paul has also urged that an inspector general be put in place to keep close tabs on how aid to the Ukrainian military is actually spent, noting, “We have one out there and overseeing Afghan waste. He’s been very good at it. You don’t have to wait for an appointment. He’s got a team up and running. And I think that’s what we should do.”

Hawley also did not hold back in expressing his reservations about the aid package, writing on Twitter, “Spending $40 billion on Ukraine – more than three times what all of Europe has spent combined – is not in America’s interests. It neglects priorities at home (the border), allows Europe to freeload, short changes critical interests abroad and comes w/no meaningful oversight.”

A final vote on the aid bill is likely to occur later in the week, and given the direction in which the prevailing political winds continue to blow with regard to this vexing, yet distant conflict, chances of its passage appear strong, regardless of the fiscal red flags already raised.