By Jeff Stein, Nick Miroff and Jacob Bogage
October 20, 2023
The Washington Post
President Biden on Friday unveiled a $106 billion proposal that primarily consists of funding for Ukraine and Israel, in what may prove the last major piece of domestic legislation of his first term.
The legislative package, which comes after the president addressed the nation Thursday night about the war in Israel, reflects the White House’s desire to demonstrate U.S. resolve on a range of international fronts. The plan is likely to be passed quickly through the Senate, where it is expected to enjoy more bipartisan support. But it faces a more uncertain fate in the House of Representatives that is still trying to decide its next speaker.
“History has taught us that when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror — when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression — they cause more chaos and death and more destruction,” Biden said. “And the cost and the threats to America and the world keep rising.”
The bulk of the assistance consists of aid to Ukraine, both for economic and military assistance provided by the U.S. That is also likely to prove the most contentious part of the funding, with House Republicans balking at Biden’s handling of the conflict now nearing its second year.
The three other biggest pots of funding are aid to Israel, which is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza; international humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza; and increased security along the U.S.-Mexico border as the country grapples with a surge of new immigrants.
Here’s what’s in the administration’s $106 billion request regarding Ukraine aid.
Biden’s request includes a full year of funding for Ukraine, or $61.4 billion, after the administration has struggled to pass aid to the country due to opposition from House Republicans.
At least $45 billion would go to military needs. The U.S. has been sending existing stockpiles of munitions and weapons to Ukraine, and the Congressional funds allow the Biden administration to replenish existing stockpiles. The U.S. has thus far directed more than $75 billion to Kyiv, most of which has gone to security assistance, loans for military gear, and Defense Department stocks of weapons and equipment.
Ukraine’s forces have struggled to achieve a major breakthrough in their counteroffensive on Russia in the eastern part of the country. But with Ukraine burning through arms and munitions at a fast clip, experts say failure to provide additional aid could give Moscow the upper-hand. If the U.S. withdraws support from Ukraine, “within a couple weeks, or a couple months, the Ukrainians would collapse if the Russians could take advantage of it,” said Mark Cancian, senior adviser with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank
The request also includes $16 billion for economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. While international aid covered the country’s funding gap this year, Ukraine would have to make enormous cuts to pensions, hospitals, and other government programs should Western assistance fail to materialize. “This is close to being an existential question” for the country, said Simon Johnson, an economist at MIT closely tracking Kyiv’s domestic finances.
Critics of the war have said the West should pull back funding for Ukraine to force President Volodymyr Zelensky to sue for peace, while many in the GOP have said that European allies should pick up more of the tab.
The package also calls for Congress to approve roughly $10 billion for humanitarian needs across Israel, Ukraine, Gaza, and “other global needs.”