Senators Reach Massive Agreement

Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

This was very unexpected.

After hours of tense speculation, the Senate has locked in a deal to pass a $1.5 trillion government spending bill, including a $13.6 billion package for Ukrainian aid.

The deal, announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), puts the funding bill on a path to pass by Thursday, capping off weeks of back-and-forth.

Senate passing the government funding bill comes two days after the House finalized the $1.5 trillion government funding bill, which conceded to remove pandemic relief from the package after backlash from Representatives from several states.

The announcement by Schumer also marks a massive U-Turn from earlier on Thursday evening when the agreement hit a last-minute block.

According to Senators, the block emerged from Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, who eventually voted against the $1.5 trillion bill and whose objection appeared to be tied to an unspecified concern with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), included in the bill.

Discussing his objection to VAWA, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) mentioned that Sullivan wanted to include “some last-minute edits” about language contained in the VAWA segment.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL.) confirmed that leaders were working with Sullivan to overcome the hurdle.

However, Sullivan denied these claims, revealing in a statement after he voted against the bill that he couldn’t “support” the 2,700-page bill as he and his staff were not given sufficient time to complete “necessary due diligence.”

The snag with Sullivan came hours after Senators had worked through other concerns from some Republican leaders calling for an amendment vote.

The amendment vote led by Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida would have seen the Ukraine aid bill become a standalone package. But his efforts were thwarted by Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who warned separating it from the $1.5 trillion bill would slow it down.