Senate Republicans Block Biden’s $110 Billion Ukraine, Israel Aid Package

Republicans demand tougher measures to secure southern frontier, which Speaker Johnson calls an unsustainable catastrophe.
Senate Republicans Block Biden’s $110 Billion Ukraine, Israel Aid Package
The United States flag at the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on May 12, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Jackson Richman
12/6/2023
Updated:
12/7/2023

Senate Republicans on Dec. 6  blocked the advancement of a supplemental bill to fund Ukraine, Israel, and the border, taking issue with the bill’s border measures that they say are not tough enough.

The tally was 49–51 as the Senate failed to clear the 60-vote threshold to begin debate on the $110.5 billion package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted no so he could bring it up again if he chooses.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted against the procedural vote as he has called for conditioning assistance to Israel.

The day before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called for his rank-and-file to vote against it “to make the point, hopefully for the final time, that we insist on meaningful changes to the border.”

Republicans have said they would not support Ukraine funding unless there is funding to secure the southern border.

The 167-page bill allocates $13.5 billion in weapons to Ukraine amid its war with Russia, which invaded the Eastern European country in February 2022.

Talks between Senate Democrats and Republicans reportedly broke down over the weekend, thereby jeopardizing further Ukraine aid.

The Biden administration has warned that U.S. funding for Ukraine is set to run out by the end of the year.

In a Dec. 4 letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said funding for Kyiv will expire at the end of this year.

“I want to be clear: without Congressional action, by the end of the year, we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks,” she wrote.

In response, Mr. Johnson sent a Dec. 5 letter to Ms. Young, reminding her that Ukraine funding is contingent on changing southern border policy and answers from the administration on their strategy for Ukraine.

“The open U.S. border is an unconscionable and unsustainable catastrophe, and we have a moral responsibility to insist this madness stops immediately,” he wrote.

“Rather than engaging with Congressional Republicans to discuss logical reforms, the Biden administration has ignored reality, choosing instead to engage in political posturing.”

In response to a question from The Epoch Times on Dec. 5 about the partisan tension in Congress over Ukraine funding, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller warned: “We’re at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to our ability to provide security assistance to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is about to enter what we know will be a very difficult winter when we’ve seen Russia launch attacks on critical Ukrainian infrastructure that they use to enable people to heat their homes during the winter.”

Mr. Schumer and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have called on Republicans to accept President Joe Biden’s supplemental funding requests.

However, President Biden remarked on Dec. 6 that he is open to “significant compromises.”

“I’ve made it clear that we need Congress to make changes to fix what is a broken immigration system because we know, we all know it’s broken, and I’m willing to do significantly more,” he said.

“But in terms of changes of policy and to provide resources we need at the border, I’m willing to change policy as well.”

This includes changing policy at the southern border, he noted.

“We need to fix the broken border system. It is broken,” he said. “And thus far I’ve gotten no response.”

However, President Biden blasted Republicans whom he said were not willing to negotiate.

“Republicans think they can get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise,” he said.

“That’s not the answer,” he continued. “And now they’re willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process.”

The measure would also give $10.6 billion in military assistance to Israel amid its latest conflict with the terrorist group Hamas.

Of that amount, $4 billion would go toward the Jewish state’s missile defense systems—including the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow systems.

There is $1.2 billion to advance the Iron Beam, which is in development and would be an advanced missile defense system.

The bill also consists of humanitarian aid to Gaza, Ukraine, the West Bank, and other places.

There has been humanitarian assistance reaching Gaza over the past several weeks despite criticisms that Hamas, which controls Gaza, would confiscate such aid.

Additionally, the supplemental includes assistance to the Indo-Pacific amid the threats from China and North Korea.

The legislation, overall, would invest $43.6 billion in the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Moreover, it consists of almost $5.32 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1.9 billion of which is to operate and secure the border. There is just under $1.09 billion to stop illicit drugs, including fentanyl, from getting into the United States.

Finally, the supplemental includes a record $1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program—which has been crucial to the Jewish community over the past several years amid the rise in antisemitism, a trend that has only continued amid the Hamas-Israel war.

Recipients of the grant program can use up to 50 percent of funds toward armed security—if they want to use more than that percentage, they must get a waiver from FEMA.

However, the procedural vote was a test of Mr. Schumer asking Republicans, as Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) put it, “Are you serious?”

“And we tried to say, ‘Yes, we’re serious for a long time,’” said Mr. Lankford.

Jackson Richman is a Washington correspondent for The Epoch Times. In addition to Washington politics, he covers the intersection of politics and sports/sports and culture. He previously was a writer at Mediaite and Washington correspondent at Jewish News Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Examiner. He is an alum of George Washington University.
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