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U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC

Photo: Michael Reynolds / EPA

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have blocked a multibillion-dollar aid package for Israel and Ukraine for the time being. The conservatives refused to support the package with a total volume of 106 billion dollars (about 98 billion euros) in a procedural vote on Wednesday.

All Republicans in the Senate voted no, as did independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who usually votes with the Democrats but has expressed concerns about funding Israel's "current inhumane military strategy" against the Palestinians. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also voted "no" on procedural grounds to allow for a revision of the proposal. After the vote, the Democrat spoke of a serious moment that would have lasting consequences for the 21st century and risk the decline of Western democracy.

Democrats argue that aid to allies is essential to support global democracy and crack down on autocracy. Blocking the bill would signal to both U.S. opponents and allies that the United States does not stand behind its international partners. With their "no" vote, the Republicans want to push through their demands for stricter immigration policies and control of the southern border, and demand more accountability for American taxpayers' money flowing abroad. Schumer had previously said he would try to break the stalemate with an amendment to border policy.

President Joe Biden had said before the congressional vote that he was willing to make "big compromises" on immigration policy so that Congress could release funding for Ukraine. The release of funds to support Ukraine "cannot wait any longer", failure would be the "greatest gift" to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden said.

The US president had asked Congress in October for a financial package of 106 billion dollars. It includes, among other things, $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel in the war against Hamas, aid to other allies such as Taiwan, and funds to protect the border with Mexico.

Among Republicans, there is support for new aid to Israel, but resistance to new funding for Ukraine. In the Senate, legislation requires a majority of 60 of the 100 senators in procedural preliminaries. The Republicans currently have 49 senators and can block legislative projects with their blocking minority.

The United States is Ukraine's main supporter in the war against the Russian invasion forces. Since the beginning of Russia's war of aggression in February 2022, the US has already delivered or pledged more than $44 billion in military aid to Ukraine.