Utah Sen. Mike Lee took to the Senate floor over the weekend and spoke for nearly four hours — almost as long as the Super Bowl.
Lee was arguing against a $95 billion supplementary aid package to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which a handful of Republicans joined Democrats in negotiating. But more conservative Republicans — Lee and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — made great efforts to delay the bill.
“We cannot send billions of dollars to Ukraine while America’s own borders are bleeding. This betrayal is all the more loathsome as it occurs at a time when the eyes of a nation are turned to sport, family and fun,” Lee said at the beginning of his filibuster, which started at 11 a.m. MST Saturday.
During his filibuster, Lee’s X (formerly Twitter) account posted, “Senator Lee has now been speaking on the Senate floor for 3 hours denouncing Ukraine funding without real border security.” He finished talking a little before 3 p.m. MST.
Lawmakers move to close debate amid filibuster
Toward the end, he hammered on the need for a more open amendment process. The six amendments proposed by Lee — “to close the loopholes in our asylum laws and to require proof of citizenship to vote” — and other Republicans failed to pass, with every Democrat and a handful of GOP senators voting against them.
“It’s not extremist for the American people to ask that noncitizens be prohibited from voting in their elections,” the Utah senator said.
On Sunday, he called on Republicans to vote no on a motion to achieve “cloture,” which allows the Senate to end the filibuster through a two-thirds majority. “What that means is that we’ve now been shut out of the ‘fair and open’ amendment process that was promised,” Lee said in a post on X.
“This closes debate and virtually assures passage in the Senate. Only the House can stop this now,” he said in another post.
The same day, the upper chamber voted to move the package forward. But it didn’t deter Lee or Paul from repeatedly speaking against the aid package on the Senate floor.
“Open the champagne, pop the cork! The Senate Democrat leader and the Republican leader are on their way to Kyiv!” said Paul on Monday. “They’re taking your money to Kyiv! They didn’t have much time — really no time and no money — to do anything about our border.”
What’s next for the federal aid package?
However, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in his remarks on the floor Monday afternoon, there’s “strong support behind this bill.”
“By now, we have taken numerous procedural votes that prove beyond doubt that there’s strong support behind this bill,” Schumer said. “It’s time to finish the job and get this critical bill passed.”
The Senate package includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, $9.5 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine, and $4.8 for the Indo-Pacific, as CNN reported. It was negotiated after Senate Republicans backed away from supporting the bipartisan foreign aid bill, which tied foreign aid to border security and immigration reform.
According to Punchbowl reporter Andrew Desiderio, senators are expected to cast their final vote overnight or early morning Tuesday. But opposing Republicans plan to “filibuster until no more senators come to the floor,” Paul said in a post. “Wish us stamina.”
What did Sen. Mike Lee say on X Spaces with Elon Musk?
On Monday, Lee said he would engage in an online conversation with Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, X owner Elon Musk, former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and entrepreneur David Sacks on X Spaces at 4 p.m. MST. The online event kicked off nearly 15 minutes late.
“The truth is, this thing still has about $8 billion going directly to the government of Ukraine,” Lee said during the conversation, which drew 140,000 listeners. “These are not choirboys, these are not Boy Scouts, these are not Girl Scouts. These are people who have really set world records for corruption.”
During the online event, Lee posted an appeal on X to Republicans, asking them to vote against the package and “against more border chaos.”
Musk chimed in, saying, “We want to do the right thing, we want to help people,” but “prolonging the war” will only lead to the deaths of young soldiers. He urged those tuned in to have “some sympathy.”