Update: The Senate passed the bill early Tuesday morning, sending it to the House. Alaska’s senators were among 22 Republicans who joined most Democrats on final passage.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan has voted to advance a foreign aid bill that has $95 billion for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
He said it will fight authoritarian aggression globally and also rev up America’s capacity to manufacture weapons, ammunition and war ships.
“Over $50 billion dollars of this bill will be directly into our industrial base to defend ourselves,” Sullivan said in a floor speech Friday. “Working-class Americans (and) America’s national security will benefit.”
Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are among 17 Republicans who voted with Democrats to advance the bill Monday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did, too.
For Sullivan it’s a bit of a turnaround. Last week, he voted against advancing a similar foreign aid bill that included border security measures. Former President Donald Trump urged Republicans to reject it. Sullivan said he had many reason to oppose the bill, including that the border measures didn’t go far enough.
But Sullivan is in favor of sending military aid to allies under threat. That puts him at odds with more right-wing Republicans, like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, who oppose spending more money to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion. They say the U.S. can’t afford it.
Paul derided the argument that the bill was good for the country because it would help the defense industry.
“This is sort of the quiet part they used to not say out loud … . ‘We’re going to enhance the defense industrial base’ — really?” Paul said in a floor speech Monday. “The meat grinder of war is now justified by expanding the profits of arms merchants?”
Sullivan also said failing to help Ukraine would encourage China’s leadership and aggressive dictatorships around the world.
“American credibility is not divisible,” he said. “You can’t say ‘We’re going to be real strong in the Taiwan Strait, but, you know, no problem in Ukraine, or with Israel.’ These authoritarians are working together. We need a strategic response to this very dangerous period.”
Republican opponents of the foreign aid bill, led by Paul, have slowed the process but the bill is likely to pass the Senate this week. Its prospects in the House are murky. Speaker Mike Johnson said he opposes it because it does nothing to secure the U.S. border, even though he helped kill the earlier version of the bill that included border security measures.
This story has been updated to include Monday’s vote.