Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) criticized President Biden over his expected $100 billion budget request to aid the war efforts in Israel and Ukraine and address other administration priorities.
The package, which has not been officially announced, is also expected to include billions in funding for border security and support for Taiwanese defense against China.
“Biden is sending a $100 billion emergency funding request to Congress, but only $10 billion of that is allocated for Israel,” Blackburn said in a statement Thursday. “There is an immediate responsibility on Congress to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, and to hold that aid hostage by linking it with a myriad of other issues — including bailout for sanctuary cities and more money for Ukraine — is irresponsible.”
“These separate funding requests should be considered as such,” she said.
Biden is expected to formally unveil the budget request Friday and discuss the need for Israel support during a rare Oval Office address Thursday evening.
The president was in Israel on Wednesday and announced a $100 million humanitarian aid package for Palestinians in Gaza amid Israel’s war with Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the territory.
The budget request binds multiple administration priorities to support for Israel, which is popular in Congress. The Biden administration has strongly supported Israel since the beginning of the Hamas conflict earlier this month and pledged that the U.S. will provide additional aid to the country.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he supports the idea of packaging the aid together.
“This is all interconnected,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “You’ve got the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Russians and the Chinese, sort of, on the same side against the democratic world, so there is a connection between all of this. I am not surprised, frankly, that the administration seems to be inclined to send up a broad package.”
However, other Senate Republicans have warned that the expected border security ask isn’t enough to get their support.
“I’m sure it’s going to be milquetoast and inadequate,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a leading Republican voice on immigration reform.
Cornyn said the Biden administration needs to include significant policy reforms in the national security funding package, and that leaving out those reforms “would be a problem for passing the overall bill.”
Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have backed the effort to pass Israel and Ukraine aid together.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged his colleagues to move quickly on passing aid, but the GOP-controlled House languishes without a Speaker and will be potentially unable to consider any significant legislation.
A previous $40 billion budget request in August from the Biden administration sought $24 billion for Ukraine aid and $4 billion for border security, among other priorities. It was not passed amid conflicts in Congress over the federal budget.
The Ukraine aid was stripped from a continuing resolution that kept the government funded through November, passed just hours before the shutdown deadline for the end of the day on Sept. 30.
Source: The Hill