United States: To bolster support for Ukraine and Israel, the US Senate has introduced a $118 billion bill addressing both border security and foreign aid. The bipartisan effort faced immediate opposition in the House of Representatives, with Speaker Mike Johnson dismissing it as “dead on arrival.” Despite President Biden’s call for swift passage, the bill’s fate remained uncertain.
Senate supporters from both Democratic and Republican camps pledged to push forward, even without the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced plans for an initial vote, emphasizing the bill’s measures to secure the southern border by temporarily halting most migrant entries if daily attempts exceed 5,000.
The legislation allocated funds for various purposes, including $60.06 billion for Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $2.44 billion for US Central Command and Red Sea conflicts, and $4.83 billion for US partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Additionally, the bill designates $10 billion in humanitarian aid for conflict zones, excluding funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
While facing controversy over UNRWA funding, Schumer stressed the bill’s critical priorities, emphasizing the need to address complex global challenges. The proposed measures align with President Biden’s previous requests for additional aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
The bill’s progress is hindered by House Republicans’ insistence on linking it to immigration policy changes. Despite House Speaker Johnson’s plan for a separate $17.6 billion military assistance bill for Israel, negotiations between Senate and House members continue in pursuit of broader support. The proposed deal aims to enhance frontline personnel, asylum officers, and immigration decision processes.
The bill’s backers argue that it addresses concerns such as the “catch-and-release” practice, aiming to expedite asylum case adjudications to reduce illegal immigration. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed cautious optimism about the ongoing negotiations, emphasizing the need for the Senate to act.
However, right-wing opposition, including House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, criticized the bill for potentially allowing 5,000 illegal immigrants daily and providing automatic work permits to asylum recipients. As immigration emerged as a significant concern, both parties navigated the complexities of border security, foreign aid, and legislative negotiations.