The Hitchhiker’s Guide to potential timing for the Senate and the international aid package

The Senate has now cleared the first barrier to starting debate on the $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

But how long until there’s a final vote?

In short, this might take a while.

Expect the strong possibility of weekend sessions and even important overnight votes. It’s possible this may not wrap up until next Tuesday – or beyond.

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To wit:

The Senate overcame a filibuster just to start debate on the bill. From a very technical standpoint, the Senate is not on the bill just yet. Opponents of clearing the filibuster are awarded 30 hours after the vote early today.

So, unless there is an agreement to speed things up, the Senate could vote Friday evening around 7 pm ET just to get on the bill.

At that stage, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will likely “file cloture” to try to end debate on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., discusses next steps for the foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel on the day after the bipartisan Senate border security bill collapsed, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By rule, if Schumer files on Friday, the Senate cannot vote to overcome the second filibuster until Sunday. “Cloture” (to end a filibuster) requires an “intervening day” before voting to end the filibuster. So that means the Senate can’t vote to break the second filibuster until Sunday. Saturday serves as the “intervening day.”

But this is where this gets tricky.

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By rule, the Senate must vote to crack the second filibuster one hour after the Senate meets on Sunday. This presents “The Super Bowl Scenario.” What the Senate MIGHT do if they are really trying to step on the gas (and get senators the game or to watch the Super Bowl), is meet at 12:00:01 am et SUNDAY. The intervening day (Saturday) will have expired. By rule, the Senate can vote at 1:00:01 am ET Sunday to end debate on the overall bill.

Schumer

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 07: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters as he walks to his office at the U.S. Capitol on February 07, 2024, in Washington, DC. In the immediate wake of the failed bipartisan border security and foreign aid legislation, Schumer said he will put up a supplemental spending bill for aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan up for a vote later on Wednesday.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

However, there is also the “non-Super Bowl” situation here. We’ll call this the “Ravens-Lions” scenario. Say for a moment that senators don’t give a care about the Super Bowl. So the Senate might meet at noon or 1 pm et Sunday. By rule, the procedural vote to end the filibuster would happen one hour after the Senate meets. So just after 1 pm ET Sunday or 2 pm ET Sunday.

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If the Senate gets 60 votes to break a filibuster, the bill is on a glidepath to eventual passage. 

But we are far from finished.

Opponents of the bill can require the Senate to burn up to 30 hours after the Senate breaks the filibuster before the Senate can vote on final passage.

McConnell after supplemental failed

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 07: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to a vote in the Senate Chambers at the U.S. Capitol on February 07, 2024 in Washington, DC. The Senate failed to pass legislation consisting of immigration and border security tacked on with foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

So, unless there’s an agreement, the Senate couldn’t vote on final passage of the bill until Monday night after 7 pm et or so… or… in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Everything will hinge on when the Senate concludes the procedural vote to end the filibuster.

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In addition, there’s lot of interesting stuff to watch in between. Debate. Votes on amendments related to the border. You name it. And, it’s entirely possible that the Senate may actually take several days of debate and amendment votes – and elect to not try to break a filibuster and then pass the bill until late next week.

This is all developing right now.

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