Approval for aid to Ukraine, Israel uncertain as Congress debates

  • The White House is proposing a package with aid to both Israel and Ukraine
  • Senate Republicans want border policy changes to vote for the bill
  • House Republicans have introduced a bill that only gives aid to Israel

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(NewsNation) — Nearly everyone in Congress wants to send aid to Israel as soon as possible, but so far, that’s not happening as lawmakers debate a proposed aid package that also includes money for Ukraine.

The path to approving aid is, at the moment, messy and unclear.

The White House is requesting Congressional approval for an aid package that includes $14 billion for Israel, $61 billion for Ukraine, $10 billion in humanitarian aid, $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific and $13 billion for border security.

Democrats in the Senate support passing the package as is, while Republicans have balked, saying that throwing money at the border isn’t enough to fix immigration issues. They are demanding policy changes from the White House that would make it harder for migrants to claim asylum in the U.S. and make it easier to turn people away at the border along with an increase in deportations.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the Senate Tuesday regarding the border. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told NewsNation it was clear from Mayorkas’ testimony money is not enough.

“Money is not going to help us at this point, if we’re going to change what’s happening in the border we have got to have changes in law, in what’s actually done. We’ve got to have changes in asylum, we’ve got to have changes in withholding, we’ve got to have changes with recalcitrant countries,” he said. “What Mayorkas was saying is he needs additional changes in law, not just additional dollars.”

Congress has not passed comprehensive immigration reform since the 1990s.

Republican staffers and some senators told NewsNation that no aid package would get through without changes to border policy from the White House.

Support for Ukraine aid also seems to be fading among Republicans, though one GOP senator said he expects huge support for most, if not all, of what the White House is asking for if border policy changes are included.

In a Senate hearing Tuesday, lawmakers questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the package, with both cabinet members emphasizing the strategic need for the aid to be passed as a complete package.

Even if the Senate can come together to pass the aid package, more battles are likely to arise in the House where a growing number of House GOP members have opposed additional aid to Ukraine. Some have called for an accounting of how previous aid has been spent and demanded a clear plan for victory from Ukraine before more money can be sent.

Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson introduced an aid bill that would grant the $14.3 billion requested for Israel without any funding for Ukraine. The bill also offsets the money by making cuts to the Internal Revenue Service budget, something Democrats have called a non-starter.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his party to pass aid to both Ukraine and Israel as a package deal, warning that the nation’s adversaries would be watching to see if America will lose its resolve in Ukraine over time.

President Joe Biden has said he would veto a standalone aid package that only includes funding for Israel.

The fight over foreign aid comes as Congress is also facing a funding deadline of Nov. 17, after a previous continuing resolution provided stop-gap funding to keep the government open. Without a new funding package, the federal government is once again facing threats of a shutdown.


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