Congressional leaders are working diligently to pass supplemental aid for Ukraine and Israel before the Christmas holiday. Failure to do so before the year’s end could significantly hinder the chances of successfully implementing the entire aid plan.
While the Senate is moving forward with their process, a group of conservative Republicans is urging House Speaker Mike Johnson to pass a GOP-led bill in the House as a starting point for negotiations between the two chambers.
If successful, the House bill would be more conservative and potentially give hard-line senators more leverage in finalizing the aid package.
Senator Rick Scott, an ally of Johnson, expressed the importance of the House bill aligning with real benchmarks and including border security measures to make it difficult for senators to vote against it.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a strong advocate for Ukraine and Israel aid, has been in regular contact with Speaker Johnson regarding the supplemental aid.
McCaul, who recently visited Israel, shared that Israeli leaders are urgently seeking assistance from the U.S. A committee source revealed that McCaul receives frequent calls from leaders in both Israel and Ukraine who grow increasingly concerned about the possibility of never receiving critical support from the U.S.
A senior Senate GOP aide raised doubts about a bill originating in the House ultimately becoming a law. They emphasized the need for a bipartisan product that has a realistic chance of passing into law, as a House product would likely only receive support from Republicans.
Several Senate sources closely involved in the negotiations stressed the importance of the window between Thanksgiving and Christmas, expressing concerns from both Republicans and Democrats that if the process continues into the New Year, the chances of successfully passing aid to Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and border security decrease significantly.
A GOP lawmaker who supports the administration’s aid request predicted that Israel would likely be passed as a stand-alone measure, while progress on border security would accompany aid for Ukraine. This lawmaker also noted the speaker’s desire for results regarding aid to Israel, Ukraine, and border security.
Last week, Congress passed a short-term spending plan to avoid a government shutdown but postponed more extensive discussions about the long-term budget until mid-January.
If negotiations for the supplemental aid become entangled in these budget talks, it could complicate the process further. Additionally, with the upcoming 2024 presidential election cycle, reaching a grand bargain may prove to be elusive.
If talks extend into the new year, Johnson may attempt to attach only Israel aid to the funding bill Congress addresses for the first spending deadline, further diminishing the likelihood of passing aid for Ukraine, according to Senate sources.
House Republicans have no intention of allowing Senator Schumer to push through all the priorities connected to a new funding package. Some progressives, including Senator Bernie Sanders, have proposed conditions for providing aid to Israel, such as the IDF easing its bombing of Gaza.
However, Senator Richard Blumenthal voiced opposition to conditioning aid to Israel, arguing that imposing combat conditions on an ally defending itself would be difficult for the United States Congress, which has yet to pass a budget. He cautioned against hindering the IDF’s efforts to address extremely complex challenges.