Proposals For Aid To Israel, Ukraine Spark Conflict In Washington

The Biden administration and the House put together conflicting aid proposals.

Tuesday, October 31st 2023, 5:51 pm

By: News 9


The Biden administration's top military and diplomatic officials pitched the President’s supplemental funding request for aid to Israel and Ukraine on Capitol Hill today. It was met with a mix of support, skepticism, and outright protest.

Approval of any aid is looking increasingly fraught with challenges.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testified Tuesday morning before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Their opening remarks were interrupted repeatedly by more than a dozen anti-war protesters, some of whom yelled for a ceasefire in Gaza, while others sat quietly with their hands, painted red, held aloft.

"We now stand at moment where many are, again, making the bet that we're too divided, we're too distracted at home, to stay the course," said Secretary Blinken, once order was restored. "That's what's at stake with President Biden's national security supplemental funding request."

The $105 billion package would provide $14 billion in military aid for Israel, $61 billion for Ukraine (to last for the next year), about $14 billion to improve security at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as funding to support Taiwan and humanitarian aid for the Middle East.

Both Blinken and Austin argued that it's important that the aid for Israel and Ukraine be approved together because of the strong message that would send to the world.

"In both Israel and Ukraine democracies are fighting ruthless foes who are out to annihilate them," Austin said. "We will not let Hamas or Putin win."

New Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), and the hard right members of the GOP conference who put him in power, are not on the same page. Conservative Republicans, increasingly, are questioning the need to continue funding Ukraine's military operations and Johnson endorsed House legislation Tuesday that would provide $14 billion in aid to Israel and nothing more. What's more, it would offset the expense by cutting an equal amount from the IRS.

Senate Democrats decried the move, saying that it politicizes American's national security and would stand no chance of passage in the upper chamber. Many Senate Republicans feel the same way.

"To separate the package is naive because the threats have commonality," said Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an staunch supporter of aid for Ukraine. "So, it may be not popular for certain Republicans to support Ukraine funding. I don't know why because Putin's the bad guy, not the Ukrainians."

Oklahoma's two Senators both generally support providing aid to Ukraine. Senator Markwayne Mullin, however, does not believe the package should include any humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, saying it will only end up helping Hamas.

"I won't support anything that's going to put money into Gaza in a time of war," Mullin (R-OK) said in an interview on Newsmax. "We need to be standing with Israel, not supporting their enemies."

James Lankford has issues with some aspects of the proposed package, but not the inclusion of aid for Ukraine.

"I do think we need to stand with Ukraine, I do think it’s a bad thing for Putin and China and North Korea and for Iran to gang up and slaughter Ukrainians," Lankford (R-OK) said in an interview Tuesday. "We can’t just ignore that axis and assume it doesn’t have global effects on us."

As for the funding the administration wants for the southern border, Lankford says it appears that will only help facilitate the asylum process and not actually do anything to deter migrants from seeking asylum here -- something he says he will not support.


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