The newly elected the U.S. House Speaker, Louisiana Republican told Fox News on October 29, “We’re going to move a stand-alone Israel funding bill this week in the House, and I think we’ve got to separate that and get it through,” adding that he believes there will be bipartisan support for the measure. Johnson believes funding to Ukraine and Israel should be split and handled separately, suggesting he will not back President Joe Biden’s $106 billion aid package for both countries.
Johnson, a longtime opponent of funding the wartime effort, says that he’s concerned about funding to Ukraine and that bifurcation is important for definitive aid to Israel, which will only be possible with cuts somewhere else. According to the White House fact sheet, the aid to Israel in the administration’s request includes funding for the country’s air and missile defense systems readiness, including support for the Iron Dome.
The dynamics of the House have shifted after the appointment of the right-wing leader Mike Johnson after the ouster of Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, from the speaker’s post three weeks ago. At a time of rising gun violence in the wake of the recent Maine mass shooting attack, Johnson, a staunchly conservative evangelical Christian, faces daunting issues ahead. Johnson swept through on the first ballot with support from all Republicans, becoming the second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President. Last month, Johnson and the majority of House Republicans adopted a similar stance by voting against a bill to send Ukraine $300 million to arm and train its fighters.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been aiming for Congress to approve $106 billion in supplemental support, with the majority of money going to bolster Ukraine’s effort to win the war against Russia and the remainder split among Israel, Indo-Pacific, and border enforcement. Biden proposed in Congress last week that Ukraine will be receiving about $61 billion in assistance, while Israel, a far better militarily equipped country, will get about $14 billion for air and missile defenses.
Addressing the different military needs of both nations, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said on October 26, “The difference here is that Israel has a very advanced military, a very Western-style military already. So the needs writ large are different between what Israel is asking for and what Ukraine is asking for.”
Raising doubts over Ukraine’s fate in the long-drawn war, Johnson said on October 26, “We want to know what the object is there, what is the end game in Ukraine.” He further said, “We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there, and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan. We have these concerns.” He also said that he needs to ensure that the White House gives the people some accountability for the dollars.
Ukraine has become far and away the top recipient of U.S. aid. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research institute, the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress have directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial, and military support.
Experts believe that aid has played a huge part in Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia. Despite the wariness of NATO allies of pulling directly into hostilities due to the risk of a nuclear war, the U.S. continues to provide Ukraine with a long list of defense capabilities like abrams battle tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, coastal defense ships, advanced surveillance, and radar systems. This highlights the extraordinary scale of U.S. aid.
Ukrainian officials hope for the merger of assistance for both nations. Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, said this week, ”As Ukrainians, we are clear the endgame for us is gaining the territories back and winning the war. But the support that has been coming from the United States was enough to sustain the war but not to win.” She said that Kyiv hopes that Johnson brings the supplemental to the floor.
Israel and the United States, on the other hand, remain tightly knit at the moment, even in the face of growing opposition to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Since World War II, U.S. has been aiding the Israeli military, and helped develop its prowess over the years. In the wake of the recent attack by Hamas, the U.S. is sending guided-missile carriers and F-35 fighters, among other equipment, and Congress is likely to authorize additional aid as well as other equipment.