Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a House bill that would have provided emergency aid to Israel without funding to Ukraine, demanding the Republicans agree to President Joe Biden’s $106 bundle request instead. The bill, which has been the center of a fierce debate between the parties, is crucial in determining how the Biden administration handles foreign aid, specifically to Israel and Ukraine.
The White House proposal seeks to combine the aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and migration policy in what’s being presented as “border security” in order to overcome opposition by some Republicans to continued funding of Kiev. The Republican-majority House of Representatives, however, recently passed a $14 billion standalone package for Israel, which would be offset by cuts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Time is of the essence and it’s imperative that the Senate not delay delivering this crucial aid to Israel another day, Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas said on Tuesday, urging the Democrats to agree to the House bill. However, Patty Murray of Washington, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, replied, “Our allies in Ukraine can no more afford a delay than our allies in Israel.”
President Biden has pledged to veto the House bill were it somehow to be approved in the Senate, where Democrats control 51 out of the 100 seats. The Republican-majority House, on the other hand, had a standalone bill for Israel with no additional provisions and it passed last week. Deploying the funding to Israel, if delayed, would have huge implications for the Israeli government and its people.
Furthermore, the United States has sent Ukraine over $44 billion in military aid since February 2022, including weapons, equipment, and ammunition. The US has insisted this does not make it a party to the conflict with Russia. In addition, American taxpayers have also contributed approximately $4 billion in humanitarian aid and almost $27 billion in “economic assistance”, which includes paying the salaries of Ukrainian government employees.
Additionally, a secret deal with the White House to fund Ukraine cost the former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy his job in early October, leading to a three-week deadlock in the lower house of Congress. The new speaker, Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson, has voted against continued funding of Kiev and expressed support for single-item bills.
The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) used to provide Ukraine with military equipment from the US military industry recently ran out, according to the White House. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has told the Senate that Ukraine would lose the conflict with Russia without continued US assistance.
In response to the deadlock in the Senate, Democrats are reportedly working on their own funding proposal and hope to introduce it later this week, according to Reuters. The ongoing discussions in Congress are crucial to determining the future of foreign aid, specifically to Israel and Ukraine.
The funding and aid provision bill, including the aid to Ukraine, Israel, and additional provisions, is paramount in alleviating the worsening conditions in Ukraine and ensuring the security and defense of Israel. As the negotiations continue, the potential impact of these bills is significant, and their passage remains a pressing matter in both the Senate and House of Representatives.