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Warner, Kaine discuss next steps after Senate votes down Ukraine, Israel, border package

Chris Graham
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U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel appears to be on life support, with the Senate, in a procedural vote on Wednesday, blocking a measure proposed by President Biden mainly over differences between Republicans and Democrats over something unrelated – border security.

The 51-49 vote against the Biden proposal included all 49 Senate Republicans, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who voted no on the procedural matter – a motion to limit debate, which requires 60 yes votes to advance – so that he would be able to reintroduce a related measure later on.

This is your latest example of how dumb things are in Washington, which is hopelessly broken. A squabble over border policies fired up by conservative media to give Republicans something to attack Democrats on politically is holding up military aid to an ally at war with Russia, and another at war with terrorists.

“I believe Congress can and must pass a supplemental spending package that supports the fight for democracy in Ukraine, supplies our partner Israel, provides much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza, and secures our border. But given the urgency of what’s facing the Ukrainians this winter, we cannot afford to wait. Autocrats around the world, including President Xi, are watching,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement after the failed vote.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., sounded a more optimistic note in a statement after the vote on Wednesday, to the effect that he said he thought a deal would get done, but sounded, in a back-and-forth with reporters on Thursday, like he’s maybe seeing the political reality a little more clearly.

“The border issues are not easy to resolve quickly,” Kaine said. “We do need to provide Ukraine aid promptly. The funding that we’ve made available is essentially going to be dry by year end. And I’m very committed to these various pieces, aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, Gaza humanitarian aid, aid in the Indo-Pacific.

“We are trying to find a sweet spot where if we don’t do everything that needs to be done, at least we can take some meaningful steps around border security as part of this bill,” Kaine said.

The Biden proposal that failed to get filibuster-proof support would have provided $50 billion in additional assistance for Ukraine, $14 billion to Israel in its war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza, and $20 billion for southern border security.

Schumer linked the aid packages to border security as an olive branch to Republicans, after weeks of negotiations that have seen Democrats give in on several GOP border security priorities.

As has been typical in recent years, Republicans get what they want and then push for more, and in the meantime, the world burns.

Specific to Ukraine, the funding being held in limbo there is seen as critical for the Western-backed effort to repel the invading Russian forces.

“Vladimir Putin’s hopes for victory rest on the U.S. walking away from Ukraine,” Warner said. “In 21 months, Ukraine has succeeded in decimating the military and morale of one of our chief geopolitical adversaries in Vladimir Putin’s Russia without the loss of a single American or NATO soldier. We know from intelligence community assessments that Putin believes Ukraine will fall within just months without renewed U.S. support. Why, at this moment in time, would we prove Putin right?”

Because, politics.

Kaine is adamant that senators not head home for the holidays “until we get this done.”

“All of these pieces are critical,” Kaine said. “Discussions are ongoing between the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and with the administration about what might be an acceptable package. And we’re going to have to get there, but we shouldn’t leave Washington until we have. And we’re going to have to get there, but we shouldn’t leave Washington until we have this done.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].