President Biden on Wednesday delivered remarks urging Congress to pass his national security supplemental request, including more funding for Ukraine.
“This cannot wait,” Biden said from the White House. “Congress needs to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess. It’s a simple as that.”
The President’s speech came just days after Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned Congress that the U.S. funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia is running out, and that not continuing to fund Ukraine would “kneecap” its military, adding that “if Ukraine’s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting, full stop.”
Biden has requested $106 billion in new spending to send aid to Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific countries and for humanitarian purposes in Gaza, but that request was not taken up by Congress when it passed its latest round of stopgap funding bill in mid-November.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday teed up the first procedural vote on the President’s spending package, which was set for later Wednesday—though the bill is not expected to overcome this initial hurdle.
“Make no mistake: today’s vote is going to be long remembered,” Biden warned, “and history is going to judge harshly those who turned their back on freedoms cause. We can’t let Putin win.”
Republicans have said they’ll vote against the spending package if it doesn’t include tightening immigration laws.
Biden said on Wednesday, “I support real solutions at the border. I put together a comprehensive plan the first day I came into office. I made it clear that we need Congress to make changes to fix what is a broken immigration system….and I’m willing to do significantly more.”
He added that he has asked for “billions of dollars” for more border agents, more immigration judges and more asylum officers.
“Frankly, I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place,” Biden asserted during his address regarding funding for Ukraine. “While Republicans in Congress are willing to give Putin the greatest gift you could hope for and abandon our global leadership—not just to Ukraine but beyond that.”
The President added that it’s “important to see the long run here…if Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there.”
Biden then posed a scenario in which Putin keeps going, and potentially attacks a NATO ally. “And we have committed as a NATO member to defend every inch of NATO territory,” he noted, “and then we will have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops.”
There is no hard deadline for lawmakers to pass a supplemental bill, which could hypothetically stretch into next year.
“This is too serious,” Biden said. “I’m calling on Congress to do something—and do the right thing: stand with the people of Ukraine. Stand against the tyranny of Putin. Stand for freedom. Literally stand for freedom. Let’s get this done.”