Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
February 13, 2024

The Senate passed a $95 billion national security package to aid Israel, Ukraine and other U.S. allies very early Tuesday morning after a months-long debate that has deeply divided congressional Republicans.  The bill passed 70-29, after 22 Republicans joined Democrats in approving the aid.  Its path will still be very tricky in the House, given that some Democrats have objected to the Israeli government’s handling of the war in Gaza and Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) has declared the bill “dead on arrival” and is threatening not to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.  Enough Republicans would need to support the bill to make up for those Democrats who would not vote for the bill over the aid to Israel.  Bringing the legislation to the floor through a discharge petition, which requires 218 members to support it, would avoid Johnson having his fingerprints on the proposal amid calls by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and others to remove him as speaker if he puts a Ukraine funding bill on the House floor for a vote.  In addition to the $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, the national security legislation also includes more than $9 billion in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, Ukraine and other nations; spends nearly $5 billion on Indo-Pacific allies, including Taiwan; and prohibits any of the bill’s humanitarian funds from going to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that operates in Gaza and the West Bank, following allegations that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

The Senate now stands adjourned to convene for pro forma sessions only with no business conducted on the following dates and times: Friday, February 16th at 3:30 P.M., Tuesday, February 20th at 9:00 A.M. and Friday, February 23rd at 3:00 P.M.  When the Senate adjourns on Friday, February 23rd, it will next convene at 3:00 P.M. on Monday, February 26th and is expected to take up the nomination of Jacqueline Becerra, of Florida, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

The House convened at 2: 00 P.M. with votes scheduled for 6:30 P.M., when it is set to consider eight bills out of the Foreign Affairs Committee including H.R. 2766 – Uyghur Policy Act of 2023.  The House is also expected to take up H. Res. 863 – Impeaching Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, for high crimes and misdemeanors which had previously failed.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.