update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Senate passes foreign aid package, including billions for Israel

"This critical legislation will make our nation and world more secure as we support our friends who are defending themselves against terrorists like Hamas," Joe Biden said.

The U.S. Capitol. Credit: Shutterstock/Rarrarorro.
The U.S. Capitol. Credit: Shutterstock/Rarrarorro.

The U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package late Tuesday that includes $26 billion in wartime assistance for Israel and $9 billion in humanitarian aid, some of which will be allotted for the Gaza Strip.

The bill passed the Senate on an overwhelming 79-18 vote after the House had approved the package Saturday, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk after months of delays.

U.S. officials told AP that about $1 billion of the aid could be on its way shortly, with the bulk following in the coming weeks.

“Tonight, a bipartisan majority in the Senate joined the House to answer history’s call at this critical inflection point,” Biden said, vowing to sign the bill into law as soon as it reached his desk on Wednesday.

“This critical legislation will make our nation and world more secure as we support our friends who are defending themselves against terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like [Vladimir] Putin,” added the president about the aid, which also includes $61 billion for Ukraine amid its war with Russia.

Thirty-one Republicans voted for the legislation on Tuesday, nine more than when the Senate passed a similar version in February. The previous aid package was effectively shelved for weeks due to disagreements over the illegal migration crisis at the U.S. southern border and the aid for Kyiv.

Tuesday’s legislation was opposed by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Of the $14.1 billion earmarked for Israel, $10.6 billion is U.S. Defense Department funding, including $4 billion for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling aerial-defense systems; and $1.2 billion for further development of the Iron Beam laser-defense system to counter short-range rockets.

Another $3.5 billion is a U.S. State Department grant for Israel to pay for American military equipment and services.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz thanked senators from both parties after the conclusion of the first day of Passover.

“The Israel aid package that now passed both houses of Congress is a clear testament to the strength of our alliance and sends a strong message to all our enemies,” tweeted Katz on Wednesday.

“As we mark 200 days to the barbaric October 7th terror attack by Hamas, Israel and the United States stand together in the fight against terrorism, defending democracy and our shared values,” he stated, personally thanking Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“The Israel-U.S. strategic partnership is unbreakable,” Jerusalem’s top diplomat said.

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