Austin and Blinken to push Congress to aid both Israel and Ukraine

October 31, 2023

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were set to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. should immediately send aid to both Israel and Ukraine. 

The two Cabinet Secretaries will press their case for funding President Biden’s $105 billion emergency aid request to fund not only Israel’s war with Hamas and Ukraine’s war with Russia but also security concerns on the U.S.-Mexico border as well as China’s threats against Taiwan. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who was elected last week, has insisted that said House Republicans would first bring a separate bill to provide $14.5 billion in aid to Israel before sending more aid to Ukraine.

Following a meeting on Friday with Biden and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), though, Johnson stated that Congress is “not going to abandon” Ukraine.

“We can’t allow [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there,” Johnson said on Fox News. He added, however, “We must stand with our important ally in the Middle East and that’s Israel.”

The House Speaker’s stance is in contrast to that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who earlier this month called for an emergency appropriations package tying additional funding for Israel with military aid to Ukraine.

And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday said that Republicans should resist “the false allures of isolationism” as Putin works to re-assert Russia as a global power and as Hamas seeks the total annihilation of Israel.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) will say that she and top Republican on the committee, Susan Collins of Maine, are writing a bill to aid both countries, as per Biden’s request. 

However, the number of Senate Republicans who’ve joined with their colleagues in the House to slow or stop U.S. aid to Ukraine has been growing in recent weeks. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), one of the most vocal opponents of Ukraine assistance in the upper chamber, has called Ukraine’s war against Russia’s invasion “an endless conflict with no plan from the Biden Administration.”

The House could potentially pass its scaled-down proposal to aid Israel by week’s end. On Monday, Speaker Johnson said he would call Sen. Schumer to discuss the House bill. 

Austin and Blinken’s testimony was scheduled to begin at 9:30am ET. It will stream live here.

PHOTO: Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, 2021

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