McConnell defends foreign aid bill against critics, Trump


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pushed back on criticism from within his own party for the significant victory of passing an aid package for Ukraine and Israel in the chamber even as former President Donald Trump actively lobbied against it.

Calling foreign aggression “the single biggest issue we’ve had in a long, long time,” McConnell touted the bill’s passage in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday. The bill passed 70-29 on the strength of 22 Republican votes.

“We got about five more than we thought we were going to get,” McConnell told The Hill. “Trump was making some calls. It’s funny to be glad you get 22, but I’ve been on the short end of some of these other things, and 22 seemed like a landslide.”

But McConnell is taking flak from his own conference.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., for one, said the leader is “not representing Republicans.” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has called for a “leadership change.” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said “McConnell is probably not the future.”

Further, it is likely all for naught, as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has vowed not to bring the $95.3 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and Taiwan for a floor vote in its current form.

The aid package came in the aftermath of the failed supplemental immigration and aid bill pushed by President Joe Biden that was anchored with border security policies that were ultimately rejected by Senate Republicans against the headwinds of criticism that the bill did not go nearly far enough on border policy.

Johnson outright rejected this standalone aid package given “the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate.”

“There’s a reason why we haven’t passed a major immigration bill in all these years,” McConnell told The Hill. “The only advice I would give the speaker publicly: Let the House vote on Ukraine. Just let them vote. Nobody can really figure out who’s where, and I hope he can find a way…

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