Business news from Ukraine

Biden signs bill to provide aid to Ukraine and Israel – New York Times article

24 April , 2024  

The $95.3 billion bill was passed after months of congressional gridlock jeopardized a major thrust of President Biden’s foreign policy.

President Biden was set to sign a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Wednesday, reaffirming U.S. support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s military attack after months of congressional gridlock threatened the White House’s main foreign policy thrust.

On Tuesday evening, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the package, a sign of bipartisan support after growing policy divisions raised questions on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies about whether the United States would continue to support Kyiv. The 79 to 18 vote gave Biden another legislative achievement to boast about, even in the face of an obstructionist House of Representatives.

“Congress passed my bill to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the strength of American leadership: We stand firmly for democracy and freedom, against tyranny and oppression,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday night, just minutes after the Senate vote.

He said he would sign the bill into law and address the American people on Wednesday “so we can start sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week.”

The White House first requested the security package in October, and officials explicitly acknowledged that the six-month delay has put Ukraine at a disadvantage in its fight against Russia.

“The Russians are slowly but successfully taking more and more territory from the Ukrainians and pushing them to the first, second, and sometimes third line of defense,” John F. Kirby, spokesman for President Biden’s National Security Council, said on Air Force One on Tuesday. “The short answer is yes, there has been damage done over the last several months.”

Nevertheless, the passage of the legislation ended an extraordinary period in Washington. Speaker Mike Johnson had to overcome fierce right-wing opposition to get it through the House of Representatives. The aid is split into four parts: one measure for each of the three US allies and another designed to sweeten the deal for conservatives, which includes a provision that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok.

The bill includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine; $26.4 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza; and $8.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific. It also includes sanctions against Iranian and Russian officials.

The House of Representatives also added a provision requiring the president to demand that the Ukrainian government repay $10 billion. The idea to include a portion of the aid to Ukraine in the form of a loan was another example of former President Donald Trump’s influence on Congress. Trump called for making any future aid to Ukraine a loan.

The White House tried to reach an agreement with Mr. Johnson in various ways for six months. Officials even agreed to some tougher measures at the US border when Mr. Johnson said he would not allow aid to Ukraine without border restrictions. But when Trump denounced the law, hoping to prevent Biden from winning the election, Republicans followed suit.

But when the Senate passed its own bill to provide $95 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan without any immigration measures, it increased the pressure on Mr. Johnson.

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