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US Senate ready to block $100 billion Israel-Ukraine aid package – Politico

Republican lawmakers have reportedly signaled they will either sink President Joe Biden’s proposal or make drastic changes to it

US President Joe Biden’s $106 billion national security funding request, which includes aid for Ukraine and Israel, is in “big trouble” as senators prepare to block or significantly alter the bill, Politico reported on Tuesday. 

The outlet noted that many in the Senate, including Republican supporters of Biden’s initiative, are “uncharacteristically pessimistic” about the bill’s chances. “The package that the White House sent over really is dead,” South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds was quoted as saying. “The appropriators in the Senate can begin by basically starting over.”

The bill was introduced by the Biden administration last week, seeking legislative approval to provide an additional $61.4 billion to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia and $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in its war with Hamas. Biden also wants $9.2 billion for humanitarian aid in Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine, as well as $7.4 billion to counter China’s influence. The administration included a further $13.6 billion in funding for border security.

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Politico noted that while Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, they still need nine or more Republican votes to get a bill passed through the chamber. However, it seems that Republican lawmakers are unsatisfied with the current version of Biden’s proposal, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that a number of GOP senators want stronger border security as well as “other changes.” 

Politico added that some Republicans are unsure about linking aid to Israel with ongoing funding for Ukraine. A growing number of conservative lawmakers have vehemently opposed sending any further support to Kiev.

“They should be separated out,” insisted Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, noting that the Israeli component of Biden’s bill has “almost overwhelming support” and could quickly be passed.

South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, however, has insisted that Biden’s package should move forward as a whole. “Those are four national security issues, and we should deal with them as a unit,” he insisted.

To date, Washington has approved at least $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, according to recent calculations from the US State Department Office of Inspector General. However, House Republicans have increasingly pushed back against additional aid, going as far as threatening a government shutdown last month over the inclusion of Ukraine in a government spending bill. 

Funding for Kiev was ultimately dropped from the stopgap spending package, but US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy lost his position after ‘Ukraine skeptics’ accused him of striking a secret deal with the Biden administration to keep the money flowing.

 

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