Sen. Mike Lee Filibusters $95 Billion Foreign Aid Package

Over the weekend, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) launched a spirited opposition to a proposed $95 billion foreign aid package promising a significant portion for Ukraine. During a session that extended from Friday night into early Saturday, Lee employed a traditional filibuster to highlight his concerns about various aspects of the package, notably a $238 million provision for the deployment of U.S. troops to Europe. 

The focus of Lee’s argument was HR 815, titled the “Removing Extraneous Loopholes Insuring Every Veteran Emergency Act” or the RELIEVE Act. This bill, which proposes to allocate over $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific, includes funding that Lee argues is not directly related to the immediate needs of national security or veterans’ welfare.

“It provides some $238 million, roughly a quarter of a billion dollars to cover deployments of U.S. troops to Europe,” Lee stated. He expressed concern over the broad scope of the aid, including funding for non-security related expenditures inside Ukraine, such as subsidies for clothing stores and concert ticket sellers, alongside significant investments in Ukraine’s border security, even as Americans continue to suffer at home under the weight of “Bidenomics.”

Lee emphasized the betrayal felt by many Americans regarding the prioritization of foreign borders over the security of America’s borders. Alongside Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Lee’s “Die-Hards Filibuster” sought to extend debate on the aid package, arguing for additional amendments that would prioritize domestic concerns over foreign aid.

Lee introduced amendments intended to redirect the focus of the aid, including one aimed at preventing “reconstruction for Ukraine,” which was met with opposition. Sen. Catherine Masto (D-NV) objected, arguing about concerns over “right-wing extremism” rather than the substance of the amendment itself.

The Utah senator criticized the collective decision of 17 of his GOP Senate colleagues who, on Friday, voted with Democrats to limit debate on the aid proposal, arguing that it went against prior commitments to ensure amendments could be offered before a final vote. Lee and Paul’s efforts underscore the deepening rift inside the GOP over the approach to foreign aid and border security.

Lee took to X, formerly known as Twitter, over the weekend to tell Americans directly about how the Senate is ignoring the importance of securing the nation’s borders before advancing foreign aid packages. He described his fight for an “open amendment process” that was consistently blocked by other senators who only wanted to end all public discussion of the ongoing outpouring of taxpayer funding for Ukraine that must be paid for through additional borrowing and printing money.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was one of the leading voices against Lee. She blocked his proposed “Stopping Border Surges Amendment,” that sought to introduce common-sense changes to immigration law aimed at protecting the border by objecting to unanimous consent requests.

As Lee, Paul and other America First senators press for a reevaluation of priorities, the debate over the $95 billion aid package continues to unfold. With the vote now scheduled to close debate on the proposal, the GOP faces yet another moment of truth as the critical 2024 election cycle unwinds.


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