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Final act: Will US Senate support Ukraine aid and what comes next

Final act: Will US Senate support Ukraine aid and what comes next Photo: Will the Senate support US aid to Ukraine (Getty Images)

Today, the US Senate will begin consideration of a bill to help Ukraine proposed by House Speaker and Republican Mike Johnson.

Read the RBC-Ukraine article below to find out whether the Democrat-controlled Senate will support the Republican's initiative and when Ukraine will receive aid from the United States.

Sources used: Mike Johnson's bill, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre, Senator Mark Warner, and The New York Times.


What's in the bill?

In his bill, Speaker Johnson has allocated $60.84 billion for assistance to Ukraine and related expenses. One-third of these funds will be spent on replenishing US stockpiles spent to support Ukrainians. In other words, this $23.2 billion will remain in the United States.

In total, Johnson's bill provides $49.9 billion for defense spending. This includes the cost of weapons that will be purchased by Ukraine or transferred from US stockpiles. The document also provides $1.57 billion for economic assistance to Ukraine and another $400 million for border protection and humanitarian demining.

In addition, Ukraine will receive $7.8 billion in direct budget support as part of Johnson's initiative. However, this will be a loan, the terms of which will be determined by a separate agreement between Kyiv and Washington.

However, this loan may be written off after November 5, 2024, i.e., after the US presidential election. So, in effect, whether Ukraine will be written off will depend on who wins the US election.

Another important point of this bill is the ATACMS long-range missiles. The document obliges the US president to immediately transfer these missiles to Ukraine. But he can refuse if such a transfer could harm US national security by officially notifying the US House and Senate committees. Therefore, such a refusal is unlikely to remain a secret but rather has every chance of becoming an instrument of political struggle on the eve of the US elections.

Will Senate vote?

The outcome of the vote in the Senate, where Democrats have a majority, is unlikely to come as a surprise to Ukrainians. Especially since there are also many supporters of Ukraine among Republican senators. It is safe to say that when it comes to the Senate, the question is not "if" but "when" they will vote on the Ukrainian issue.

Consideration of the aid to Ukraine, along with Johnson's other bills on Israel, Taiwan, and US national security issues, is scheduled to begin today at 8 p.m. Kyiv time. However, this will not be the final vote.

It is expected that Republican Senator Mike Lee may try to delay the consideration of the issue by proposing to approve the possibility of submitting amendments to the bill on assistance to Ukraine already approved by the House of Representatives. Therefore, it is likely that the Senate will reject this proposal in the first vote, as it requires a simple majority.

Final act: Will US Senate support Ukraine aid and what comes nextPhoto: The US Senate will begin consideration of Ukraine aid today (Getty Images)

Then there will be a second vote, but it is not the final one. This will be to overcome the so-called filibuster, a procedural trick that is occasionally used in the Senate to delay consideration of issues. The filibuster allows senators to hold endless debates, essentially as long as they can stand on their feet. Senator Ted Cruz once delivered a speech from the Senate floor for over 21 hours.

To overcome the filibuster and proceed to consideration of a bill without debate, 60 votes out of 100 are required. Therefore, the Democratic majority will need the help of at least nine Republicans.

With this in mind, consideration of the Ukrainian issue in the Senate may be delayed for several days. But the final vote is expected to take place by the end of the week.

When to expect help from US?

After the Senate's decision, the document will have to be signed by US President Joe Biden. Even before the Ukrainian bill was approved in the House of Representatives, the Biden administration promised not to delay a new package of military aid to Ukraine. According to White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre, new arms deliveries will begin "immediately" after the final decision of Congress.

Moreover, during a phone conversation this week, Biden personally assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the new aid package would be delivered quickly.

"We discussed the first defense aid package after the law was passed. I have the assurances of the president that it will be fast and powerful and will strengthen our air defense, long-range and artillery capabilities," Zelenskyy says after speaking with Biden on Monday.

The New York Times wrote that the first batch of American aid could arrive in Ukraine within days after Biden signs the bill. According to The New York Times, it is likely to include missiles for air defense systems and artillery shells, which will be taken from Pentagon stockpiles in Germany for quick delivery.

At the same time, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner expressed hope that a decision on military aid to Ukraine would be made on Tuesday or Wednesday and that the new package would include ATACMS missiles.

However, according to The New York Times, citing anonymous US generals, the long-range missiles will be delivered to Ukraine only after the Precision Strike Missiles, designed to replace ATACMS, start arriving at the Pentagon's warehouses.

The fact that Biden and Zelenskyy have already agreed on their transfer gives hope that Ukraine will receive ATACMS quickly.

Earlier, RBC-Ukraine reported that the American news agency the New York Times learned how Speaker Johnson changed his position on helping Ukraine.