Biden requests $105 billion aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other crises | ET REALITY


President Biden on Friday delivered a $105 billion military aid request to Congress, primarily for Israel and Ukraine, essentially daring lawmakers who oppose parts of the proposal to vote against an overall package that, he said, it will ensure “American security for generations.”

Biden is betting that Republicans who oppose more aid to Ukraine will not vote against legislation that also includes more than $14 billion to help Israel defend itself from Hamas terrorist attacks. And she hopes that progressive Democrats who don’t want to support Israel’s military operations won’t vote against additional aid to Ukraine.

Also included in the request are billions of dollars to bolster security along the U.S.-Mexico border, security aid for Taiwan and a fund for humanitarian assistance in hotspots around the world.

The legislative gamble plays out on a global split screen: wars rage in Europe and the Middle East, while in the United States, the House has been in a state of chaos for more than two weeks as Republicans struggle to elect a president.

Biden’s effort to convince a fractured Congress to back his funding request will test the argument he made to the American people in an address to the nation Thursday night, when he pushed for a global commitment in a deeply unstable world. . In that speech, he said the cost to the United States of refusing to invest in that commitment will be high.

“These conflicts may seem far away,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said in a call with reporters Friday, as the president’s request was sent to Congress. “But the outcome of these fights for democracy against terrorism and tyranny is vital to the security of the American people.”

Administration officials expressed confidence that there is broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress that should come together quickly to pass the president’s emergency spending proposal.

But the initial reaction on Capitol Hill included some angry words from Republicans, who accused the president of trying to force them to vote in favor of a war effort in Ukraine that they don’t believe in.

“It’s ridiculous that they’re even trying to group them together. It is absolutely outrageous,” said Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., one of many far-right Republican members who have urged the quick passage of a bill to help arm Israel but have consistently voted against it. of military assistance to Ukraine.

For months, right-wing Republicans have been arguing that programs to arm Ukrainian fighters are diverting money from other domestic security goals and bringing the United States closer to a head-on confrontation with Russia. However, they have taken a very different tone when it comes to arming Israel in its fight against Hamas, characterizing it as a vital issue for international security.

Even some House Republicans who have continued to support assistance to Ukraine took issue with the White House approach and warned that Republican leaders there would try to split the package.

“The House should split it,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and a frequent supporter of aid to Ukraine, said of the president’s proposal, adding, “Bringing the two together is inherently divisive.”

Last month, more than half of House Republicans voted against a bill to replenish a $300 million account dedicated to training and equipping Ukrainian fighters, after several joined ranks with tough as Luna to try to force the administration to be more forthcoming with a plan for victory. Some of those members said Biden’s speech at the White House on Thursday night had done little to address his concerns.

“What I want to see is a commander in chief who can sit in the Oval Office and tell America, ‘This is what we’re going to do, this is what we want to spend that money on, and this is what we want to be ours.’ result’. ‘” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. He said he wanted the various security crises covered by Biden’s funding request to be handled separately, so he could get those answers on aid to Ukraine.

If Congress approves Biden’s combined approach, Ukraine would receive $61.4 billion in military and economic assistance, while Israel would get about $14.3 billion to bolster its air and missile defenses, including the Iron Dome system, which has protected to the country from incoming Hamas rockets. .

The request also includes more than $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Israel, Gaza and Ukraine and $7.4 billion for security to support Taiwan and other allies in the Indo-Pacific. It also includes nearly $14 billion to strengthen border security operations in the United States, a nod to Republican demands that domestic security be considered alongside global conflicts.

Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said part of the administration’s humanitarian aid request would be used to help victims of violence in Israel and Gaza.

“We have already seen this administration’s commitment to ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches those in Gaza,” he said. “That aid will continue strongly as Congress funds more humanitarian aid.”

Biden’s allies in the House leadership endorsed the president’s approach Friday and predicted the strategy would prove successful in the end.

“There is support for it,” said Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee.

The proposal has already generated some opposition from the left wing of the Democratic Party, where more than a dozen members have called for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. They argue that billions in military assistance to Israel would simply accelerate a conflict they are trying to end.

“Sending more money for guns is not going to get us to peace,” Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Ill., said in an interview.

Ramirez was cautious about money going to security along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying “more money for law enforcement at the expense of immigrants is unacceptable to me.”

The proposal includes about $13.6 billion for additional border patrol agents, immigration judges and other border security measures.

How the House handles the president’s request may depend in part on how (or if) Republicans can end their impasse over choosing a new president.

Legislative activity has been at a standstill since a handful of hardline Republicans orchestrated the impeachment of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., two and a half weeks ago. No spending package, regardless of its scope, is likely to get a vote until a replacement is named or members vote to give Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the current acting chairman, the power to introduce bills.

Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has promised that the Senate will quickly vote on Biden’s comprehensive national security package. That could pressure the House to do the same, although the Senate appropriations panel is not expected to begin working on legislation to fund the president’s request until the end of the month.

“The Biden administration’s request sends a clear message to America’s friends and allies that we stand with them,” he said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican in the Senate, also expressed support for combining foreign aid requests.

“This is all interconnected,” he told reporters earlier this week.

But even in the Senate there is some opposition. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a frequent critic of the president, issued a fiery statement.

“President Biden’s slush fund proposal is dead on arrival, as are his budgets,” he said, claiming that Biden’s proposed funding for humanitarian needs in Gaza and elsewhere would help fund Hamas terrorists. “Senate Republicans will take the lead in crafting a funding bill that protects Americans and their interests.”

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