On Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before Congress to argue for immediate aid to Israel and Ukraine. The call comes as the government’s call for $105 billion in aid faces some opposition in the divided legislative body.
During their testimony before the Senate, Democrats and many Republicans showed their majority support for the idea of providing aid to both countries. However, resistance is growing in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold the majority, and leader Mike Johnson has proposed cutting aid to Ukraine and focusing only on Israel. This, in turn, means a reduction in the funds allocated by the IRS, the US tax agency, to finance this initiative.
Despite the nation’s division, Blinken and Austin stressed to the senators that strong support for foreign aid would send a message about America’s strength to its adversaries. Blinken said: “We are in a moment where many are questioning the unity of the American people. “This is what is at stake.” Austin warned that if the United States does not lead, the costs and threats to the country will increase, and friends, rivals, and enemies should not be given reason to doubt American commitment.
During the hearing, the two secretaries were interrupted several times by protesters calling for an end to Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, demanding “Cease fire now!” and “Save the children of Gaza!” The hearing was temporarily suspended while the police removed them from the court.
President Biden requested funding of $14.3 billion for Israel, $61.4 billion for Ukraine and to resupply the weapons the Pentagon sent, $9.1 billion for humanitarian efforts in Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and $7.4 billion for the Indo-Pacific region, where the United States seeks to counter China’s influence. The White House also requested approximately $14 billion to secure the border, including increasing the number of border agents, installing fentanyl detectors, and expanding the staff responsible for processing immigration applications. asylum.
A more modest proposal of about $14.5 billion in the House immediately faced opposition from Democrats in the Senate. This puts pressure on Senate Republicans who support aid to Ukraine but are aware of concerns within their party. Different strategies anticipate more difficulties because these two countries are involved in conflicts that President Joe Biden and many US lawmakers argue could have significant global implications.