White House Asks Congress for $106 Billion for Ukraine and Israel Wars – On Friday, the White House requested nearly $106 billion from Congress to fund various initiatives, including those for Ukraine, Israel, and U.S. border security. However, the request lacks a clear strategy for securing the funds from a divided Congress. President Joe Biden made this funding request shortly after his visit to Israel, where he expressed solidarity with the country during its conflict with Hamas militants.
By combining funding for Israel, Ukraine, border security, refugee assistance, measures against China, and other priorities, the Democratic president aims to create a national security spending bill that can gain support in the currently chaotic House of Representatives. This chamber, which came under Republican control last year, has been without a leader for 18 days.
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Some Republican lawmakers are skeptical about funding Ukraine’s conflict with Russia and have even considered halting government operations to address budget deficits and high levels of debt, which currently stand at $31.4 trillion. “The world is watching and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities,” said Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, in a letter to acting House Speaker Patrick McHenry.
“I urge Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.” In a call with reporters, Young said the role of the White House is to lay out the country’s needs and the stakes, not to meddle in the speakership battle. “We are doing our job here by letting Congress know what the critical needs are and we expect them to act, and act swiftly,” she said.
She also told Congress of plans to submit another request for funding to deal with natural disasters, high-speed internet, child care and wild-land firefighter pay “in coming days.” Around $14.3 billion of the funding requested for the 2024 fiscal year is earmarked for Israel. A significant portion of this allocation is intended to support Israel’s air and missile defense systems and to facilitate other weapon purchases.
Israel’s commitment to addressing the threat from Hamas, particularly following the October 7th attack by the Islamist militant group, has prompted this funding request. On another note, conservative Republican Jim Jordan’s bid to become the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives concluded on Friday when fellow Republicans withdrew their support after a third unsuccessful vote on the House floor.
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As a result, Republicans will need to identify a new candidate, which could potentially complicate President Biden’s efforts to secure funding. Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed his intention to swiftly advance President Biden’s funding request. Biden also wants more than $9 billion for humanitarian relief, including for Israel and Gaza, where the population faces a worsening humanitarian crisis.