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5 Feb, 2024 01:32

US Senate’s $60bn bill would give Ukraine three times more than border

Kiev may get the tranche for weapons while $20bn has been proposed to deal with mass illegal immigration
US Senate’s $60bn bill would give Ukraine three times more than border

The US Senate released the text of a long-awaited national security supplemental on Sunday, which pairs provisions for tougher border security with foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The initial vote on the legislation is expected by midweek.

Out of the $118 billion package, more than a half – roughly $60 billion – is allocated for military aid to Ukraine. Another $14 billion is destined for Israel and $4.8 billion to support Washington's Indo-Pacific “partners” amid tensions with China.

A further $10 billion will go towards humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.

The overall cost of the proposed border policy changes comes to just over $20 billion, which could cover transportation for deportation, shelters and more than 4,000 new asylum officers.

President Biden immediately expressed his “strong support” for the legislation in a statement released on Sunday, claiming that the agreement was reached “on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades.”

The US leader specifically emphasized two “important priorities” that would allow the United States and partners “to continue our vital work,” referring to aid for Ukraine and Israel, urging the Congress to “swiftly pass” the bill.

President Biden has been struggling for months to garner support for a $60 billion military aid package to Ukraine as part of a wider national security supplemental. However, it remains unclear if the newly negotiated border measures will be enough to convince Republican critics and not drive away progressive Democrats.

The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, warned on Sunday that the Senate proposal will be “dead on arrival” if it reaches the House floor in its current form.

“I’ve seen enough. This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created,” Johnson said on X.

Next week, the House is set to vote on a separate “clean” package of aid for Israel, but the White House repeatedly indicated that it’s all or nothing for Biden, who has promised to veto a standalone bill.

While US lawmakers are entangled in negotiations over the new security supplement, EU leaders last week signed off on a €50 billion ($54 billion) support package for Kiev “within the EU budget.” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who originally vetoed the proposal arguing that Brussels has no idea how the monies will be spent, was reportedly “blackmailed” into accepting the deal.