U.S. senators are set to receive a classified briefing from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday. This high-level session, involving top U.S. national security officials including the secretaries of Defense and State, comes amid efforts by the Biden administration to secure congressional approval for a substantial $106 billion aid package. This package is intended to support military and security efforts in Ukraine, Israel, and other areas.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently emphasized the critical need for additional support for Ukraine, warning that without further assistance, Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion could falter. Echoing this urgency, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young cautioned that U.S. resources for aiding Ukraine, particularly in terms of weaponry and other assistance, are on the brink of exhaustion as the year-end approaches.
However, the proposed aid package is facing scrutiny, particularly from GOP lawmakers who express concerns about the ongoing financial support for Ukraine’s military actions, especially considering domestic issues like the U.S.-Mexico border security.
The debate has extended to border policy discussions, with some Republicans who support Ukraine’s funding demanding changes to border policies, particularly aimed at curtailing migrant flow. These negotiations reached a stalemate over the weekend due to disagreements on proposed measures, which Democrats viewed as overly harsh. These included indefinite detention of asylum seekers and expanding executive powers to limit the asylum system. Talks on these issues are set to continue this week.
To date, Congress has allocated $111 billion for Ukraine, encompassing military, economic, civil, and humanitarian aid. However, according to Young, the majority of these funds, except for a small fraction of the military budget, were expended by mid-November.
In a separate move, the GOP-led House passed a standalone aid package for Israel amidst its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. The White House, however, is advocating for a comprehensive approach that addresses all security priorities. The proposed new package seeks to allocate an additional $61 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel (including $10.6 billion for military equipment), nearly $14 billion for border security, and further aid for the Asia-Pacific region, among other national security needs.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, reinforcing the GOP stance, stressed the necessity of border policy revisions in any Ukraine aid bill. Johnson criticized President Biden for not addressing GOP concerns regarding a clear strategy for Ukraine, conflict resolution, and accountability for the aid provided by American taxpayers.
As the Biden administration’s supplemental funding package is brought to the Senate, Republicans are poised to potentially filibuster its passage, insisting on incorporating border security measures into the aid legislation.