Senate Democrats reject amendments to reinstate unvaccinated military members, audit Ukraine aid

Senate Democrats shot down several amendments to the $886 billion military defense package brought forth by Republican lawmakers Wednesday amid a fervent battle for consensus before the impending August recess. During Wednesday night’s session, three proposed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) brought forth by GOP leaders were unable to gather the necessary 60 votes to be included in the bill. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s amendment that would have reinstated military service members who were discharged for opting out of the COVID-19 vaccine failed 46 to 53. Notably, the amendment did not receive any votes from Democratic senators. “This shouldn’t be controversial. The military is struggling with recruitment, yet it kicked out over 8,400 servicemembers over Biden’s vaccine mandate,” Cruz tweeted Wednesday evening. “We must right this wrong. I will continue to fight until this bill becomes law and we deliver justice for wrongfully dismissed servicemembers.” HOUSE REPUBLICANS NARROWLY PASS CONTROVERSIAL DEFENSE BILL TED CRUZ, REPUBLICANS EXPOSE WOKE CLIMATE INITIATIVES IN BIDEN’S BUDGET Republican Sens. Josh Hawley, James Risch, Roger Wicker and John Kennedy also couldn’t garner enough support for their proposal to create an exclusive office dedicated solely to oversee U.S. aid to Ukraine. “Whether or not you support additional aid to Ukraine — and I don’t — rigorous oversight of what we’ve already provided is common-sense,” Hawley told Fox News Digital Thursday. Despite securing a majority of 51 to 48 votes in favor of the measure, the amendments fell short of the required threshold, which mandates at least three-fifths of the votes for passage. “Congress needs to guarantee that oversight, but Democrats refused tonight,” Kennedy said in a statement Wednesday. UNLIKELY GROUP OF SENATE REPUBLICANS TEAM UP ON AMENDMENT TO AUDIT UKRAINE SPENDING IN DEFENSE BILL Another closely related amendment proposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that sought independent audits of Ukraine spending fell in a 20-to-78 vote. Earlier this week, lawmakers managed to pass two significant amendments with bipartisan support: one requiring U.S. investors to report their stakes in some Chinese, Russian and North Korean tech industries, and the other aiming to redline China from purchasing U.S. farmland. SENATE APPROVES MEASURE REQUIRING COMPANIES TO REPORT TECH INVESTMENTS IN CHINA, OTHER ‘COUNTRIES OF CONCERN’ The Senate will resume deliberations on the defense package Thursday morning. After finalizing their version of the NDAA, both houses will convene again later this year to reconcile their bills into one package. The GOP-led House passed its version of the package earlier this month. 
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