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Senate could pass foreign aid bill soon

Senate bracing for ‘pile-up’ with impeachment, FISA on tap

You may want to cancel those weekend plans because the Senate is in for a rough one ahead of a scheduled weeklong recess.

The Senate has two — potentially three — contentious issues to address before skipping town. And it’s pretty much guaranteed at this point that senators won’t be catching their usual Thursday afternoon flights home.

Later today, House Republicans will formally present the articles of impeachment against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate, setting up a Wednesday vote on a motion to table or dismiss the trial. After that, the Senate will need to pass a reauthorization of FISA Section 702 before the Friday night deadline. Already, opponents are throwing up potential roadblocks that are threatening weekend work.

And if the House is able to pass a foreign aid bill within the next week or so, it’s difficult to see the Senate leaving for recess without addressing it in some way.

“There’s going to be a bit of a pile-up, I think,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune said.

Let’s start with impeachment. The House managers will read the impeachment articles on the Senate floor at around 2 p.m. On Wednesday, the Senate will convene as a court of impeachment and is expected to vote on a handful of motions, including to end the trial outright.

Senate Democrats expect that they’ll be able to shut it down fairly quickly, perhaps even with the help of some Republicans.

FISA. This is going to be tricky. The votes will be there in the end, but it may take a while — possibly into the weekend. Already, supporters of reauthorizing the program are warning that a lapse would be catastrophic. But securing a time agreement to vote on final passage for the FISA bill before the Friday night deadline will be difficult.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposes FISA reauthorization and told reporters Monday that he’ll be pushing for amendment votes similar to the warrant requirement that narrowly failed in the House on Friday. Paul suggested he’d be unbothered by a temporary lapse in Section 702 authority. So it sounds like Paul won’t agree to collapse time unless he gets what he wants here.

And it’s not just Paul. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for example, has vowed that he’ll do everything he can to stop the House bill from becoming law. But when we talked with Wyden Monday night, he wouldn’t commit to any delay tactics.

“I’m waiting to see what the procedure is going to look like,” Wyden said. “But I’m very much opposed to this bill.”

Foreign aid. As we explained above, Speaker Mike Johnson has several hurdles to clear before he can claim victory on a foreign aid package. But if he can get a bill through his chamber, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will have a decision to make.

Of course, any bill that passes the House will have likely done so because of sufficient Democratic support. So as long as the bill includes funding for both Ukraine and Israel — and is free of poison pills — Schumer will be hard-pressed to simply ignore it.

In the meantime, Senate Democratic and GOP leaders alike are continuing to call on Johnson to take up the Senate-passed foreign aid bill, arguing it’s the fastest and most efficient way to deliver aid to U.S. allies.

— Andrew Desiderio

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