Biden Sends Congress $106 Billion Request for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, Taiwan And Border

How quickly Congress can act, though, remains uncertain. The House still does not have a speaker after Republicans ousted their last one.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden Friday sent Congress a detailed request to spend $106 billion in the coming year to help Ukraine and Israel defend themselves, help war victims in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, counter China in the western Pacific and improve security at the Mexican border.

“We expect them to act and to act swiftly,” Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters Friday morning.

How quickly Congress realistically can act is an open question, given the lack of a speaker in the GOP-run House. Indeed, Young’s letter to the House is addressed to “Speaker Pro Tempore” Patrick McHenry, even though under that chamber’s rules it is unclear whether the North Carolina Republican has the authority to move legislation.

Young said the White House was not trying to get involved in that question. “That is a matter for the House to work out,” she said.

Young and national security adviser Jake Sullivan provided dollar figures behind the announcement Biden made in a rare Oval Office address Thursday night that he would submit an “urgent budget request” to meet U.S. national security needs.

Of the total, more than half ― $61.4 billion — would go for military assistance to Ukraine as it attempts to repel Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s year-and-half-old invasion. Another $14.3 billion is earmarked for military help to Israel, including improved air and missile defense systems, while $9.2 billion would go to humanitarian assistance for war victims in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip.

President Joe Biden walks from the Oval Office towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Oct. 13.
President Joe Biden walks from the Oval Office towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Oct. 13.
via Associated Press

A total of $4 billion is dedicated to countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region, with half of that for military aid to Taiwan and others, with another $3.4 billion dedicated to boosting the United States’ submarine capacity.

Another $13.6 billion would go for addressing the surge of migrants at the southern border with Mexico, enough for 1,300 more border patrol agents, 1,000 more law enforcement officers, 1,600 more asylum officers and 375 more immigration judge teams.

Young said Republicans who have been complaining about the border again have an opportunity to do something about it, just as they did after the White House asked for $4 billion previously. “We will not be lectured by those who refuse to act,” she said.

Young said how much of the money dedicated to humanitarian assistance would go specifically to Gaza — whose 2 million residents now are under siege and daily bombardment by Israel as it seeks to root out and kill Hamas operatives — is not specified in the budget request.

“Humanitarian is always flexible. Things happen that we need to be able to respond to,” she said. “You’ve already seen a commitment from this administration in making sure humanitarian aid gets to those in Gaza, so that aid will continue robustly.”

In describing the military assistance to Ukraine — which many Republicans have come to oppose over the past year — Sullivan pointed to Biden’s argument from his remarks Thursday that weapons going to Ukraine are coming from existing U.S. stockpiles, so that new spending is actually staying in the American economy and helping American workers.

Beyond that, Sullivan said the United States has an interest in stopping aggression to deter others from starting wars of expansion.

“We have to send the unmistakable message that in the 21st century, a dictator cannot be allowed to conquer or carve up his neighbor,” Sullivan said. “Putin is betting that the United States will walk away from defending a democratic partner in Ukraine, walk away from the coalition of countries that it built over the last 18 months, and Joe Biden and the American people are going to prove Vladimir Putin wrong.”

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