WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly two weeks ago, President Biden addressed the nation from the oval office to discuss the importance of helping Ukraine and Israel. Biden drew comparisons between the two conflicts and said the nation’s response to both conflicts need to be unified.
Members of Biden’s cabinet made that argument to lawmakers today in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on supplemental funding for Ukraine, Israel and others.
State Secretary Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated a similar message and stressed the importance of aiding what they call very intertwined conflicts.
“In both Israel and Ukraine, democracies are fighting ruthless foes who are out to annihilate them,” said Sec. Austin.
The hearing to discuss the President’s $105 billion supplemental budget request comes at a time when tensions and conflicts are escalating between Israel and Hamas, with civilians in the crossfire. Tensions were also high in today’s hearing on Capitol Hill. Some protestors were removed from the hearing room after disrupting the hearing. Some called for a ceasefire, others called to cut aid for Israel.
In Biden’s request, over $14 billion would aid Israel and roughly $61 billion would aid Ukraine in their fight against Vladimir Putin. Secretary Blinken emphasized the need for a unified response with one, combined aid package.
“We see these things as being very much joined, which is one of the reasons our request is a joint request,” said Blinken. “There is no doubt in my mind that if Putin is allowed to continue to act with impunity, that not only would he not stop Ukraine, and potentially go to a NATO country next… it would send a message to would be aggressors everywhere in the world that he can get away with it, so can we. Our allies, as well as our adversaries, as well as our competitors, are watching that conflict. They’re watching our response,” Sec. Blinken added.
“If we don’t support Ukraine, then Putin wins. But Putin will not stop in Ukraine,” said Sec. Austin. “Today’s battles against aggression and terrorism will define global security for years to come.”
Some Senate Republicans agree that the funding should be tied together.
“The threats facing America and our allies are serious and they’re intertwined,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- KY).
There is strong support for aid to Israel among both parties in both chambers. However, many Republicans want to see legislation for Israel aid separate from Ukraine. They also want major enhancements at the southern border.
“Let’s give them (Israel) the aid they need and then we can debate Ukraine. I know colleagues want to debate the border, some want to debate Taiwan, but let’s do Israel first,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R- MO).
The request also includes over $9 billion for humanitarian assistance to help civilians in Gaza, Israel and Ukraine.
This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY) criticized the House GOP aid proposal. House Republicans want to cut funding for the IRS and use those dollars for Israel aid. They also want it to be separate from Ukraine aid and others.