The bill would circumvent President Biden’s bid to force the GOP into sending another $61 billion to Kiev
A group of Republican senators have introduced a standalone bill to send more than $14 billion in military aid to Israel without also handing Ukraine another $61 billion. Tying aid for the two countries together is an attempt by President Joe Biden to leverage the GOP’s support for West Jerusalem against its skepticism towards Kiev, the senators said.
Introduced on Thursday by Kansas Senator Roger Marshall, Ohio’s J.D. Vance, Utah’s Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz of Texas, the ‘Israel Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023’ would provide $10.6 billion in direct military aid to Israel, along with $3.5 billion in grants for foreign military sales and $200 million to beef up security at US embassies and offices in the country.
President Joe Biden has already asked Congress to pass a $14 billion military aid package for Ukraine, but has insisted that it be passed as part of a $106 billion national security funding bill. This mammoth bill would also include $61.4 billion for Ukraine and $13.6 billion in funding for border security in the US.
However, the bill has been roundly rejected by Republicans, who oppose what they see as an attempt to leverage their long-standing support for Israel in order to overcome their growing opposition to Biden’s policy of limitless military aid to Ukraine.
“My colleagues and I firmly believe that any aid to Israel should not be used as leverage to send tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine,” Senator Marshall said on Thursday. “It is unreasonable for the administration to exploit an aid package for Israel to siphon off billions of taxpayer dollars in yet another blank check for Ukraine,” Lee added.
Marshall, Vance, and Lee all voted against Congress’ last package of Ukraine aid, while Cruz voted in favor.
Democrats hold a one-seat majority in the Senate, but need to win over nine Republicans in order to pass Biden’s bill. While Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lent his support to the bill earlier this week, South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds told Politico that the package was essentially “dead,” and unlikely to pass.
The bill’s chances are even more slim in the House of Representatives, where the narrow Republican majority succeeded in removing $6 billion in funding for Kiev from a government spending bill earlier this month. Following the bill’s passage, a group of hardline conservative Republicans voted to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over his reluctance to insist on single-issue bills and his alleged negotiation of “a secret side-deal” with Biden to funnel money to Ukraine, in the words of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.
McCarthy’s replacement, Mike Johnson, was elected speaker on Wednesday. An ally of former President Donald Trump, Johnson has voted against two packages of aid for Ukraine since last year, and questioned whether Kiev was being “entirely forthcoming and transparent about the use of this massive sum of taxpayer resources.”
On Israel, however, Johnson has pledged to do whatever he can to “provide the support and resources necessary to rid the Middle East and the world of Hamas’ terrorist regime.” In his first action as speaker, Johnson introduced a resolution condemning the Palestinian militant group and declaring that the House “stands with Israel.” The resolution passed by 412 votes to 10.