Republican lawmakers are reportedly set to either sink President Joe Biden’s proposal or make significant changes to it, putting his $106 billion national security funding request in “big trouble,” according to Politico. This development has left senators, including Republican supporters of Biden’s initiative, “uncharacteristically pessimistic” about the bill’s chances of success. Senator Mike Rounds from South Dakota went as far as saying, “The package that the White House sent over really is dead,” suggesting that the Senate appropriators may need to start from scratch.
The bill, introduced by the Biden administration, aims to secure legislative approval for providing an additional $61.4 billion in aid to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia and $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in its war with Hamas. Biden is also seeking $9.2 billion for humanitarian aid in Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine, along with $7.4 billion to counter China’s influence. Additionally, the administration has included $13.6 billion in funding for border security.
Despite Democrats holding the majority in the Senate, they still need the support of at least nine Republican senators to pass the bill in the chamber. However, it appears that Republican lawmakers are unsatisfied with the current version of Biden’s proposal. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has highlighted that several GOP senators are demanding stronger border security measures and other changes. This dissatisfaction among Republicans is further complicated by the issue of linking aid to Israel with ongoing funding for Ukraine, with a growing number of conservative lawmakers opposing further support to Kiev.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida emphasized the need to separate aid to Israel from funding for Ukraine, stating that the Israeli component of Biden’s proposal has “almost overwhelming support” and could be quickly passed on its own. On the other hand, Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina insisted that Biden’s package should be considered as a whole, highlighting that these issues are interconnected national security concerns that must be addressed collectively.
Recent calculations from the US State Department Office of Inspector General indicate that Washington has already approved at least $113 billion in aid to Ukraine. However, House Republicans have increasingly opposed additional aid, going to the extent of threatening a government shutdown last month due to Ukraine’s inclusion in a government spending bill. Ultimately, funding for Ukraine was removed from the stopgap spending package, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy lost his position following accusations from “Ukraine skeptics” that he had made a secret deal with the Biden administration to continue providing aid.
The uncertain fate of Biden’s national security funding request underscores the challenges the administration faces in gaining bipartisan support for its initiatives. As Republican lawmakers signal their intentions to sink or drastically modify the proposal, Democrats will need to navigate these hurdles to secure the necessary votes and advance their agenda. The future of the funding bill remains uncertain, as both sides of the aisle continue to stake their positions on critical issues of national security.