Senate passes $95-bln Ukraine, Israel aid bill

STORY: A sweeping foreign aid package cleared the final hurdle in the U.S. Congress with ease late on Tuesday, to provide fresh funding to Ukraine and Israel after months of delay.

The Senate approved the $95-billion package by a wide margin of 79 to 18 votes.

It was a combination of four bills:

$61 billion goes to defending Ukraine against Russian advances in its war.

$26 billion is for Israel - as well as humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones around the world.

While some $8 billion will help Taiwan and other countries in the Indo-Pacific "counter communist China".

A fourth bill was added to the package by the House of Representatives last week - to move on potentially banning the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

Members of the House passed the combo package on Saturday, after Republicans there abruptly ended a months-long stalemate.

President Joe Biden has promised to sign it into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Tuesday's vote "an inflection point in history".

"The conflicts we see right now in Europe and the Middle East and the tensions of the Indo-Pacific will go a long way in shaping the balance of power between democracy and autocracy in the decades to come and the consequences for America's long-term security will be profound."

His Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell expressed regret about the delay.

"For months, our friends have watched to see whether America still had the strength that won the Cold War, or the resolve that has underpinned peace and prosperity, literally for decades. Our enemies have tested whether the arsenal of democracy is in fact built to endure. Well, tonight, the Senate will send a clear message."

The two leaders applauded the bipartisan effort to finally get the package passed, after strong opposition mostly from hardline Republicans with close ties to Donald Trump.

The former president has been skeptical of funding Ukraine as he pushes "America First" policies.

McConnell later told a news conference he believes Congress has "turned the corner on the isolationist movement."

About $10 billion of the Ukraine money comes in the form of a loan, which Trump had suggested - though this bill lets the president forgive the loan starting in 2026.