White House asks Congress for $100B to support Israel, Ukraine, border efforts
By The Citizen on October 20, 2023
The White House on Friday will send a roughly $100 billion emergency funding request to Congress that seeks additional money for border security, allies in the Indo-Pacific and for Israel and Ukraine in their respective conflicts against Hamas and Russia.
The largest portion of the request — roughly $61 billion — covers money for Ukraine, which for nearly two years has been fighting against invading Russian forces with U.S. financial assistance.
The administration is also seeking $14 billion to boost Israel’s defense, nearly $14 billion for personnel and operations at the U.S.-Mexico border, $10 billion in humanitarian aid and $2 billion for Indo-Pacific security assistance.
The aid package covers priorities that Republicans open to working with the administration had floated, a combined proposal to cover America’s allies and interests abroad and the immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border.
In a letter to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who is serving as the Speaker pro tempore in the absence of an elected Speaker, White House budget chief Shalanda Young laid out how the administration’s request would fund national security priorities.
“The world is watching and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities, and I urge Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead,” Young said on a call with reporters.
The request faces an uphill battle in the House in particular, in part because the chamber has been stalled without a Speaker. There has also been opposition to funding Ukraine from a large minority in the House GOP, which could sink an effort to package it with assistance for Israel and the border.
Here is a breakdown of what the administration is seeking.
Israel $14.3 billion
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the increased funds will “invest in Israel’s defense against terrorists, including by strengthening its air and missile defense systems.”
This includes a $10.6 billion request to allow the Department of Defense to send air and missile defense support to Israel. It also covers investments in the military industrial base and a replenishment of Pentagon stocks.
The administration is requesting $3.7 billion for the State Department to cover foreign military financing and embassy support, including security operations.
The funds also include requests for humanitarian support, largely for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas, recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., controls Gaza.
The budget request for Israel comes on top of the $3.8 billion the U.S. provides to the nation annually. Sullivan said that the U.S. has been able to immediately send Israel extra munitions and interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defense system using previously approved congressional authorities.
The administration requested $9.15 billion in humanitarian aid to address Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and other needs.
Young called this a “flexible pot of money” to respond to humanitarian needs as they come up, but she also highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The president announced earlier $100 million in humanitarian aid specifically for impacted Palestinians.
“You’ve already seen a commitment from this administration, in making sure humanitarian aid gets to those in Gaza, so we imagine that aid will continue, robustly as Congress funds more humanitarian aid,” Young said.
“But that account has flexibility to allow State and USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] to assess what is happening on the ground around the globe and respond with critical dollars to ensure that people have the things that they need to survive these conflicts in other scenarios across the globe.”
Ukraine request is $61.4 billion
The $61.4 billion request for Ukraine includes$30 billion in equipment for Ukraine from Department of Defense stocks and to backfill those stocks.
The administration is also requesting $14.4 billion for the Pentagon to provide Ukraine “continued military, intelligence and other defense support.”
The request includes $149 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration. Among the threats that Ukraine is defending against is Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has led to concerns of a potential nuclear crisis.
The request includes $16.3 billion for economic, security and operational assistance through the State Department and USAID. It is requesting $481 million for Ukrainian refugees living or arriving in the U.S.
The administration is asking Congress for $13.6 billion to be used to bolster border security.
Funding would be used to add personnel and improve technology that would guard against fentanyl trafficking, according to the request.
The request includes resources for an additional 1,300 border patrol agents, the White House said, as well as 375 immigration judge teams and 1,600 asylum officers who would help alleviate the strain on the processing system.
There is also money dedicated to hire 1,000 Customs and Border Protection officers with a focus on countering the influx of fentanyl at the southern border, the White House said.
Republicans have hammered the Biden administration over the surge of migrants at the southern border, making it a politically vulnerable area for the White House.
But administration officials have repeatedly argued that Congress has failed to take action on the issue, even when the White House has asked lawmakers to do so. The White House in August requested $4 billion in funding to bolster border security in a supplemental package that Congress did not pass.
The administration is asking for roughly $7.4 billion to strengthen allies in the Indo-Pacific and push back on China’s efforts to exert influence in the region.
The White House request includes $3.4 billion for America’s submarine industrial base, which would allow the U.S. to increase its ability to build and sustain attack submarines.
The administration is also seeking $2 billion in Indo-Pacific security assistance through the State Department, as well as $2 billion for the Treasury Department to help finance developing countries and counter China’s efforts to provide funds for those nations.
The latter request is part of a broader push by the Biden administration to increase the influence of entities like the World Bank that provide investments for developing nations so that they are not beholden to China.