What Happened: Senator Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kentucky, along with his fellow Republican senators, has advocated for the expeditious passage of legislation that has received bipartisan approval in the United States House of Representatives. The proposed legislation aims to allocate a financial aid package of $14 billion to Israel following its incursion by Hamas.
Dr. Marshall expressed on the Senate floor that a prompt provision of military assistance, accompanied by a cohesive stance from Congress demonstrating solidarity with Israel, will not only contribute to the stability of Israel but also serve to impede and ideally halt the ‘evil plots’ orchestrated by Hamas, Iran, and their affiliated entities.
Marshall underscored that the level of funding requested remains consistent with President Joe Biden’s October funding proposal. President Biden’s request, however, encompassed supplementary funding for Ukraine as well.
During a floor session in Washington, Senator Patty Murray, head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, emphasized the urgency for both our partners in Ukraine and our allies in Israel, stating that any delay would be detrimental to their respective situations.
“There is strong support here in Congress to address these urgent priorities in one package—and that is exactly what I am working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do now,” she added later.
Senator J.D. Vance, a Republican representative from Ohio, who is in favor of the package approved by the House, contended that the allocation of funds for Ukraine and Israel should not be interconnected.
“The idea that these policies are not in tension with one another, the idea that what happens in Russia and Ukraine is separate from what happens in Israel is not just obvious, it is common sense, and it has been borne out by the reality of the last couple of weeks,” Mr. Vance said on the floor. “Now, my colleagues would like to collapse these packages. Too many of my colleagues would like to collapse these packages because they would like to use Israel as a political fig leaf for the President’s Ukraine policy.”
Senator Vance questioned the ultimate objective in Ukraine, highlighting the fact that the United States has already provided financial assistance over $100 billion following the Russian invasion.
The supplementary financing package formulated by the House of Representatives encompasses a budget allocation of $4 billion designated for bolstering Israel’s defensive systems, notably the Iron Dome. Additionally, the package includes supplementary funds aimed at restocking stockpiles, procuring ammunition, and acquiring more weaponry.
Following the obstruction of the bill by members of the Democratic party, Dr. Marshall expressed strong disapproval of their behavior.
In a statement, he expressed that Democrats transformed a bipartisan opportunity to provide assistance to a significant Middle Eastern partner into a display of political theatrics. He argued that the Democrats utilized the ongoing tragedy in Israel as a means to request ‘blank check support’ for Ukraine.
The Reasoning Behind The Block: Senator Jack Reed from RI said: “The House Republican messaging bill represents a misguided attempt to deny needed assistance to Ukraine. It’s not really about helping Israel. It’s about failing to keep our commitments to Ukraine.”
He continued to say that in the absence of further financial support for Ukraine, China would see this as a signal that “you can attack, wait the West out, and eventually they’ll concede.” And while it’s hard to make any conclusion, it is a viable point to be made. I have argued before that China is simply observing what Russia does, and is taking notes of what is successful and what is not. We would be foolish to assume that policy and military aid from the United States does not directly affect China’s strategy.
Also, as part of this package, the same amount of money that would be sent to Israel, would also be cut from the IRS. Of course this prompted criticism from the Democrats, and rightfully so. To call for the separation of budget proposals for Israel and Ukraine, is pretty useless when you also try and tie in IRS policy into your aid package. Either have a one-issue bill or don’t.
However, the main emphasis of Senate Democrats was on the insufficient allocation of funds for Ukraine. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) emphasized that “At this moment of danger and peril around the world, we, the United States, must support our friends and democracies that are under attack from brutal adversaries,. “That means ensuring that Israel has the right to defend itself in the aftermath of the brutal October 7 attack of Hamas. It also means ensuring that the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin from Russia. This proposal on the floor today is tantamount to surrendering to Putin’s aggression. This is waving a white flag.”
Some Senate Republicans had also voiced concern about only aiding Israel.
This week, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), expressed the need for the Senate to consider a supplementary spending package that focuses on defense matters. He emphasized the need for such a law in promoting international security by extending support to our friends, namely Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
Leadership Response: “The president would veto an only-Israel bill. I think we’ve made that pretty clear,” John Kirby told reporters at the White House.
New House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), has offered a defense of the aforementioned package, asserting that legislators aimed to responsibly manage public resources by balancing the help with reductions in government spending.
Additionally, Mr. Johnson expressed the viewpoint that assistance provided to Ukraine needs to be seen as a separate matter. That aid should be linked with more funding for security at the U.S.–Mexico border, Mr. Johnson said.
My Thoughts: While the congressional aim is to bolster the nation’s defenses and demonstrate unwavering support, the intricate threads of this funding initiative have sparked fierce disagreement among senators. Some argue for a seamless coupling with aid for Ukraine, invoking concerns about global security and potential signals to adversaries like China. Others vehemently advocate for a clear separation, emphasizing the urgency of supporting both Israel and Ukraine independently. Beneath the surface of this debate lies a complex web of international relations, military strategy, and fiscal responsibility, forcing lawmakers and citizens alike to reevaluate their perspectives on the interconnectedness of global aid and geopolitical stability. As I write this, there are people dying. And I think the overall thought in my mind is: while politicians debate the details and sit on moral authority, there are countries in need of our support. Whether we give it to them or not, is not my call (obviously) and I would not dare give my personal opinion on if we should or shouldn’t give aid #UnbiasedUnfiltered. But I think politicians fail to realize, a lot of the time, that their votes are quite literally life or death for those around the world.
Stay tuned to hear more information about aid to Ukraine and Israel. As a side note, we are in-country for the Israel-Hamas conflict filming a new docu-series. First episode will be out next week.