Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday that he expects the Senate will hold a vote on the nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine on Wednesday.
“We expect to invoke cloture — hopefully by a significant margin — on the motion to proceed on Monday, which would set us up to approve the supplemental on Wednesday,” McConnell said in Sweden after visiting Ukraine on Saturday.
By invoking cloture, the Senate can limit the debate on an issue to 30 hours and hold a vote after that time. This past Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the Senate from voting on the massive aid package, which had already passed in the House.
The Pentagon has said Congress needs to pass the $39.8 billion aid package to avoid delays in weapons shipments to Ukraine. “May 19 is the day we really — without additional authorities — we begin to not have the ability to send new stuff in,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
He stressed that: “It’ll start impacting our ability to provide aid uninterrupted.”
Paul blocked the vote because he wanted to add text to the bill that would create a new inspector general for oversight of the billions in weapons that are being poured into Ukraine, but he also noted the economic pain Americans are feeling due to the 40-year high inflation and soaring gas prices.
“Americans are feeling the pain and Congress seems intent only on adding to that pain by shoveling more money out the door as fast as they can,” Paul said.
Despite Paul’s delay, the aid is expected to easily pass through the Senate once a vote is held. In the House, the measure passed in a vote of 368-57, with only Republicans voting against the legislation.
Once signed by President Biden, the new aid package will bring the total US expenditure on the war in Ukraine to over $53 billion.