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Biden all in on aid to Ukraine, yet House remains an issue

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House on Oct. 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Jonathan Ernst - Pool/Getty Images)
by Oleksiy Sorokin and Nate Ostiller October 21, 2023 12:29 AM 4 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

In a prime-time address from the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden said he was going to send Congress an "urgent" funding request for aid to Ukraine and Israel on Oct. 20.

The administration will attempt to push for $105 billion in assistance to Ukraine and Israel, as the Congress remains blocked by the Republican party's inability to appoint the Speaker of the House of Representatives, where they maintain an obstructionist majority.

"We've not forgotten the mass graves, the bodies found bearing signs of torture, rape used as a weapon by the Russians, and thousands and thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly taken into Russia, stolen from their parents," Biden said.

"If we walk away and let (Russia's Vladimir) Putin erase Ukraine's independence, would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened to try the same."

Biden pointed out that the continuation of support for Ukraine and Israel remains vital to the West, and the U.S. in particular.

"These conflicts can seem far away," Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, said a day after the speech. "But the outcome of these fights for democracy against terrorism and tyranny are vital to the safety and security of the American people," he added, announcing the proposed aid.

The Biden administration's massive aid package to multiple actors is aimed to warm the hearts of the Republican party, which has been unable to elect a speaker since ousting Kevin McCarthy on Oct. 3. Part of the party had also expressed doubt about the need to continue to support Ukraine.

Besides the $14 billion requested to improve Israeli air defense and provide the country with ammunition, the package is also set to provide $7.4 billion to Taiwan and countries in the Indo-Pacific.

The package will also potentially include over $13 billion for border security, a nod to the hard-right Republicans who pushed the House into chaos by ousting McCarthy.

However, without a speaker in sight, the passing of a landmark aid package remains in peril while both Ukraine and Israel desperately await the decision.

Biden: ‘We’re not withdrawing’ support for Ukraine
In a national address from the White House on Oct. 19, United States President Joe Biden said he was going to send Congress an “urgent” funding request for aid to Ukraine and Israel on Oct. 20.

Broken House

As Republican members of Congress are set to negotiate the approval of funding bills and attempt once again to appoint a speaker sometime next week, withholding or voting for aid fo Ukraine has become a potential opportunity for dealmaking.

The most recent republican nominee to fail the vote was Representative Jim Jordan.

He received an “F” on the Republicans for Ukraine "report card," as he voted against all proposed aid packages for Ukraine.

The hard-right Republican known for obstructionism, anti-government views, and a penchant for conspiracy theories, Jordan struggled to gain support from his own party.

Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) arrives for a House Republican members meeting as the conference continues to debate the race for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 19, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

With each new vote, three in total, Jordan was losing supporters rather than gaining, leaving the House without a leader for the foreseeable future.

With no clear candidate for a speaker in sight, the Biden administration's $105 billion spending bill will most likely depend on whether the current interim speaker, Republican Patrick T. McHenry, gets empowered by the House, resuming the passing of key legislation.

A short-term measure to grant McHenry added powers recently received bipartisan support.

The unlikely protagonist, McHenry, supported previous aid packages for Ukraine. He will most likely bring the proposed spending bill to the floor.

However, even ardent Ukraine supporter Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested he would be open to supporting a bill for expanded aid to Ukraine in exchange for new restrictions on immigration, which Democrats would likely balk at.

With both parties unlikely to budge, it is difficult to see a path forward that does not put aid for Ukraine at risk.

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