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6 Feb, 2024 16:19

Biden threatens to veto Republican Israel aid bill

GOP lawmakers have suggested passing a standalone aid package for Israel that is not tied to border security or Ukraine
Biden threatens to veto Republican Israel aid bill

US President Joe Biden has vowed to veto a Republican-proposed standalone aid package for Israel, if it manages to pass through Congress. The idea to pass a “clean” aid package, not tied to border security or Ukraine, was floated by speaker of the US House of Representatives Mike Johnson last week. 

A number of GOP lawmakers have voiced opposition to a $118 billion national security package, set to be voted on in the Senate this week, which includes $60 billion in Ukraine military aid, $14 billion for Israel and roughly $20 billion for funding US border policy changes. 

In a statement published by the Office of Management and Budget on Monday, the White house urged both chambers of Congress to reject Johnson’s Israel-only bill, calling it “another cynical political maneuver” after the Biden administration spent “months working with a bipartisan group of Senators to reach a national security agreement that secures the border and provides support for the people of Ukraine and Israel.”

The bipartisan package also includes $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.

“The security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game,” the statement read.

As early as November, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby indicated that Biden “would veto” a stand-alone Israel aid bill.

Johnson responded to the president’s veto threat this week by calling it “a betrayal of our great ally and friend Israel in their time of desperate need.”

“The idea that Joe Biden would suggest that he would not send a clean funding measure to assist them is just outrageous,” the House speaker told CNN, warning that the Senate border package would be “dead on arrival” in Congress. 

He also previously criticized the Senate bill, saying it would not even “come close to ending the border catastrophe the president has created.”

The speaker urged the Senate to take up the standalone Israel aid bill, asking senators to abandon their efforts to keep Israeli aid linked with other issues.

While US lawmakers have been entangled in negotiations over the new security supplement for months, 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.

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