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The Senate is slated to take up the $95 billion foreign aid package


The Senate is set to take up a $95 billion package of foreign aid. Most of it meant to stave off aggression overseas. After months of Republican in-fighting over support for Ukraine, House Speaker Mike Johnson put forward bills with money for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved them over the weekend, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, through an interpreter, talked about it on MBC.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: (Through interpreter) This aid will strengthen Ukraine and send the Kremlin a powerful signal that it will not be the second Afghanistan.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us now. Deirdre, break down what's in this legislation for us.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Well, this package is similar to the one that the Senate already passed back in February. It has roughly $60 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion for Taiwan. The House did add a significant measure to the legislation, a national security measure that forces TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company within one year or face a ban in the U.S. The Senate is going to start procedural votes to move this bill, and it could have a final vote to get it through and to the president's desk as soon as today. One thing that's changed since the Senate voted on this last time is increasing calls from some Democrats to condition aid to Israel. So it's something that we're going to be watching. There is $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza in this bill.

MARTÍNEZ: But that TikTok wrinkle in the bill, does that change maybe the prospects of it getting through the Senate?

WALSH: No. There already was a bipartisan push on this issue in the Senate. Top leaders in both chambers did negotiate one key change from the version that originally passed by the House. It lengthens the period that ByteDance has to sell from six months to one year in the version that they're voting on now. I talked recently to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner. He's been leading the effort in the Senate. He's been arguing that this app poses a national security threat. He noted that the company has really turned to users to make their case to senators and not the leadership of the company.

MARK WARNER: They can't refute the fact that Chinese law says at the end of the day, they have to be responsible of the Communist Party.

MARTÍNEZ: Are there any lawmakers, Deirdre, that are maybe worried, concerned about banning an app that's used by 170 million Americans in an election year?

WALSH: Right. Warner did acknowledge there is some concern about political fallout, but there have been several classified briefings about - intelligence about the risk that the app could pose. Warner is trying to have some of that declassified. Yesterday, former President Trump posted a message on his social media channel arguing that President Biden would be responsible for any ban. But we should say this has received bipartisan support. And we should note that Trump signed an executive order when he was president to ban the app and TikTok went to court to fight that. NPR has confirmed TikTok is already preparing to file a lawsuit to block this latest effort.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, one more thing. House is out for recess right now, but the speaker's support for this foreign aid package put his job at risk. Where does that stand?

WALSH: That threat is still out there. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a resolution. If she does bring that up when the House returns later this month, the speaker could need votes from Democrats to keep his job.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thanks a lot.

WALSH: Thanks, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.