Israel, Ukraine, global aid and border funding would hit $106 billion under Biden request
President Joe Biden, joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is briefed on the terrorist assault on Israel, Saturday Oct. 7, 2023, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)
The Biden administration asked Congress on Friday to approve nearly $106 billion in new funding for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Israel and other countries and to improve security on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The funding request includes $92.2 billion for national security, including $61.4 billion for Ukraine and $14.3 billion for Israel. The administration is also requesting $13.6 billion for border security, including money to hire more U.S. Border Patrol agents and inspection machines meant to detect fentanyl.
The defense and border totals include $10 billion for humanitarian aid, split between $9.15 billion for needs in Israel, the Gaza Strip, Ukraine and other global areas, and $850 million for migration and refugee assistance on the southern border.
In a Friday morning press call, White House Budget Director Shalanda Young said the military funding would support the U.S. defense industry and create jobs at home.
“The funding will expand production lines, strengthen the American economy, keep us safe and create new American jobs,” she said.
In a Thursday night address from the Oval Office, President Joe Biden made the case for a robust funding package focused on military aid overseas, saying the United States has an obligation to support Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression and Israel against the terrorist strikes from the militant group Hamas.
Friday morning, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan repeated that the U.S. had an interest in deterring Putin.
“As the president spoke about last night, we have to continue to stand up to tyranny and aggression and defend Ukraine against this brutal Russian invasion,” Sullivan told reporters on a press call. “We know from history that if we walk away and let someone like Vladimir Putin erase Ukraine’s independence, he will not stop there and would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and the two former Soviet countries have been at war since.
The funding request would allocate $30 billion for the Defense Department to provide equipment for Ukraine and restock its own supplies, $14.4 billion for “continued military, intelligence and other defense support” and $16.3 billion for economic assistance, according to a summary provided by the White House Friday.
The request would also fund $10.6 billion to provide Israel air and missile defense support and to restock Defense Department supplies and $3.7 billion for State Department foreign military financing and embassy support.
Israel has been at war with Hamas, a militant Palestinian group based in Gaza, since surprise attacks Oct. 7 that killed 1,300, including at least 32 U.S. citizens. Hamas continues to hold about 200 hostages, including Americans.
Biden and congressional leaders have pledged strong support for Israel, a key U.S. ally.
The package would include more than $9 billion for humanitarian needs in Ukraine, Gaza and other areas.
As Israel has retaliated against Hamas, it has cut off supplies to Gaza and conducted air strikes that have harmed the territory’s civilian population.
The U.S. assistance would help “civilians impacted by the war in Gaza, who have nothing to do with Hamas and are suffering greatly as well,” Sullivan said.
The border funding would enable U.S. Border Patrol to hire 1,300 new agents, according to materials provided by the White House. The administration also asked for funding for 100 “cutting-edge” inspection machines meant to detect fentanyl, Young said. Reducing the use of fentanyl, a deadly narcotic, has become a priority for members of both parties.
The White House request includes $4.4 billion for Department of Homeland Security holding facilities and reimbursement of Defense Department support.
It would include $1.4 billion for state and local support for migrants released from DHS custody.
The White House request addresses calls by congressional Republicans to boost border funding. U.S. Senate Republicans said this week that any foreign aid should include additional funding for the U.S.-Mexico border.
But Young said Congress had declined to take up a previous request for border security.
“We will not be lectured by those who refuse to act,” she said. “Congress needs to take action to provide sufficient resources for the border.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement she supported the goals of the funding package.
“Time is of the essence,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “American children and families, those affected by natural disasters, and our allies abroad do not have the luxury of waiting for our support. I look forward to continuing to review President Biden’s request, including that for much-needed resources to protect our border, and working with Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate to quickly draft and pass an emergency supplemental funding package.”
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