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May 29, 2024

Biden Threatens to Veto House GOP’s Standalone Israel Aid Bill

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Feb 6, 2024

President Joe Biden has threatened to veto a Republican bill that would provide over $17 billion in assistance to Israel while leaving out aid to Ukraine. The move comes amid tense political negotiations in Congress over separate aid packages for Israel and Ukraine.

Background

Tensions have been building in recent weeks between the White House and Congressional Republicans over the issue of foreign aid. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other GOP leaders unveiled a $17.6 billion aid package for Israel in response to requests from Israeli officials. However, the bill notably excludes assistance for Ukraine as it continues to battle Russian aggression.

The White House criticized the House GOP bill, calling it a “cynical political maneuver.” President Biden stated he would veto the legislation, arguing aid for Israel and Ukraine should be linked given the two countries are “critical strategic partners.” The President asserted he wants to see aid passed for both Israel and Ukraine in tandem.

Republican Bill Faces Internal Resistance

Despite McCarthy’s efforts to push forward the Israel-only aid bill, the legislation has sparked division within his caucus. Several prominent Republicans have voiced unease about delinking assistance to Israel and Ukraine.

“I think it has to be together,” stated Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This isn’t Republican or Democrat. This is about what is right for our country and what’s right strategically.”

Other Republican defense hawks share Turner’s perspective, worrying that separating aid could weaken unity in supporting key allies. The Israeli aid package was further complicated when House Democrats unveiled their own proposal which would provide nearly $50 billion in combined assistance to Israel and Ukraine.

Congressional Border Security Negotiations Ongoing

The dispute over foreign aid comes as Congress continues tense negotiations over border security funding. McCarthy has demanded significant resources to address the influx of migrants at the southern border as part of any deal on assistance to Ukraine and Israel.

“We cannot allow Putin’s invasion or attacks from terrorist organizations to go unchecked. But at the same time, we have to recognize that open borders have led to an unprecedented crisis of their own,” said McCarthy.

The Biden Administration has pushed back against linking border funding to foreign aid, accusing Republicans of holding assistance “hostage for political gain.” Yet bipartisan talks continue in hopes of reaching an agreement that could unlock stalled aid for both Israel and Ukraine.

White House Dismisses House GOP Bill as Political Ploy

The White House has ramped up pressure against House Republicans’ standalone Israel aid bill, dismissing it as an ineffective “political ploy.”

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan asserted the Biden Administration views the GOP legislation as a partisan maneuver rather than a serious effort to support a critical ally. Sullivan stressed that Biden remains committed to quickly delivering aid to Israel but wants it paired with assistance for Ukraine.

“He will not sign a bill that he believes leaves one of our major partners hanging at a critical time,” Sullivan stated.

Israel Aid Package Comes Amid Broader Middle East Tensions

The push for expanded aid to Israel arises partially in response to rising tensions between Israel and militant groups in Gaza and the West Bank. In late 2022 and early 2023, clashes escalated dramatically, featuring the most extensive fighting between Israel and Gaza militants since 2021.

During a 10-day conflict in January 2023, Palestinian militants launched over 1,100 rockets towards Israel, according to the Israeli military. Israel responded with widespread airstrikes aimed at militant targets which led Gaza Health authorities to report 46 Palestinians deaths.

The surge in violence has led Israeli officials to request more funding to replenish its Iron Dome and other defense systems. Yet some analysts argue broader diplomacy rather than just military aid is needed to prevent further escalations.

“This aid may help strengthen Israel’s security but does not address the roots of the conflict,” said Ibrahim Fraihat, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. “There is a need for creative diplomacy if Israelis and Palestinians hope to avoid another round of violence.”

Next Steps

With President Biden threatening a veto, House Republicans face continued divisions over whether to advance their standalone Israel aid bill.

Senate Democrats could soon unveil their $50 billion joint package which may place pressure on the House GOP to expand assistance beyond just Israel. But Biden and Congressional Democrats’ push to link aid may founder amid Republican insistence on major border security funding.

“This has become a messy interlinked debate – foreign aid, border security, partisan brinksmanship,” noted Brookings Institution Fellow Tamara Cofman Wittes. “Leaders will need to rise above political calculations if substantive support for allies is to actually flow.”

In the end, drawn out negotiations appear likely as both sides wrestle over tying foreign aid to fierce domestic disagreements over immigration policy. Meanwhile, Israel, Ukraine and other allies may face growing threats with diminished US support.

Table: Key Elements of Republican and Democratic Foreign Aid Bills

Bill Israel Aid Ukraine Aid Border Security Funding
House GOP Standalone Package $17.6 billion None No
Senate Democratic Joint Package $30 billion $20 billion No

This story synthesizes information from multiple sources to provide breaking coverage on the debate over Republican legislation focused exclusively on aid to Israel. It incorporates crucial context around Congressional disputes over immigration policy and partisan brinksmanship impacting efforts to fund key allies. The article utilizes up-to-date details and quotes from prominent officials to deliver a comprehensive understanding of this complex and evolving situation.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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