US President Joe Biden has warned that he will not sign a Republican-backed military aid package for Israel unless it includes billions in funding for Ukraine, according to the White House’s budget office. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing the Republican proposal, stating that it “inserts partisanship into support for Israel” and fails to allocate resources for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
The OMB expressed concern that the Republican bill could undermine the longstanding bipartisan approach to providing security assistance to Israel. The office emphasized that separating Israel’s security assistance from other national security priorities could have global consequences.
The Republican aid package for Israel, worth $14 billion, includes cuts to funds designated for the Internal Revenue Service under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. It also omits security assistance to Ukraine, among other reductions. The newly appointed GOP House Speaker, Mike Johnson, has suggested “bifurcating” aid for Israel and Ukraine, going against the White House’s plan to link the two issues.
The OMB criticized the Republican bill, stating that it would be detrimental to Israel, the Middle East region, and US national security. However, the White House expressed its willingness to work with lawmakers to find a compromise.
While most Republicans support additional aid to Israel during its operation to eliminate Hamas in Gaza, support for Ukraine has become a contentious issue within the party. During recent negotiations to avert a government shutdown, the White House failed to secure the requested aid for Ukraine due to opposition from GOP members. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced backlash and was removed from his position due to controversy surrounding the issue. Some rebel Republicans accused him of trying to appease Democrats on stop-gap spending legislation.
Although lawmakers passed a temporary funding bill earlier this month to avoid a government shutdown, they chose to exclude Ukraine aid from the measure. This has resulted in the postponement of addressing the issue until a more comprehensive spending package can be put together.
In response to Republican complaints, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin argued that Ukraine would be at risk of defeat by Russia without American assistance. He stressed that the US must not “pull the rug out from under them now.”
Despite receiving approximately $50 billion in direct US military aid since February 2022, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky reportedly feels betrayed by Ukraine’s Western partners. According to Time Magazine, Zelensky’s aides have expressed concern about the slowdown in arms shipments, stating that he has been left with only the means to survive the war, rather than win it.
In conclusion, President Biden’s stance on the Republican-backed military aid package for Israel highlights the importance of including funding for Ukraine alongside support for Israel. The White House insists on maintaining the bipartisan approach to providing security assistance to Israel and stresses the global consequences of separating Israel’s security concerns from other national security priorities. The ongoing debates and negotiations surrounding this issue reflect the complexity of US foreign policy and the balancing act between different regional interests.