The Wash

Lawmakers face uncertain path for aid to Israel, Ukraine

The U.S. Capitol during the day.
On Capitol Hill, Congress faces uncertainty with aid to Ukraine and Israel. (Daniela Lobo/The Wash)

Republicans and Democrats are split multiple ways on foreign aid and its tie to the budget. Some prefer conditions before voting on a $105 billion Biden package for all additional foreign aid, including border security.

Last-minute deals, uncertainty and confusion percolated through the House Wednesday as divisions shook both parties in terms of Israel and Ukraine aid. 

House members have fewer than 10 legislative days left to vote on the proposed aid, which includes $75.7 billion for Israel and Ukraine alone.  

Americans on both sides consistently support aid to Ukraine, with 50% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats backing the funding, according to the 2023 Reagan National Defense Survey

However, Americans remain divided on aid to Israel, with 26% of those surveyed saying the U.S. is not doing enough to support, and 20% saying the U.S. is doing too much.

Democratic and Republican members say they are seeking conditions for the aid packages for both war-torn countries.  

Some Republican lawmakers clarified they will not support $61.4 billion in aid to Ukraine unless they receive border security measures to tackle the migrant crisis at the U.S – Mexico border. 

Meanwhile, some Democratic lawmakers want the Israeli Defense Forces to comply with international law to minimize civilian casualties and pull back from Gaza in return for $14.3 billion in aid. 

Jordan Tama, an American University professor and U.S. politics and foreign policy scholar, said it’s likely that conditions will be placed on aid for both, since lawmakers are seeking limitations. 

“One way to forge a compromise that makes those members of Congress feel like we’re not just giving a blank check is to include some kinds of conditions or monitoring,” Tama said. 

Republican members like Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-New York, said they refuse to consider additional Ukraine funding unless the Biden administration allocates more emergency funding for U.S. border security. 

“I will not consider voting for any of the Ukraine money until we see some border security out of the administration,” he said. “The administration can’t prioritize Ukraine over our own southern border and the invasion of our own nation.”  

Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio, said bipartisan bills need to get on the floor immediately. 

“The House leadership has to get very serious about what matters most,” said Landsman. “Staying in power, or meeting the needs of the American people, and passing a budget that maintains critical investments in the American people, in our economy, and making sure that we are there for folks abroad.” 

The foreign aid debate comes as the federal funding deadline looms and the Biden administration pushes for congressional support. 

“We have 53 days, or 52 days, maybe before the next funding deadline,” Langworthy said Wednesday. “We have to continue on in our work and we have five more appropriations bills to finish up. We need to see an agreement on a top-line spending number between the Senate and the House.” 

There is tension in both parties over two different pieces of the proposed foreign aid package, Tama said. Republicans are torn about Ukrainian aid and Democrats are split and actively debating aid to Israel. 

 “Overall, this is a package that is likely to have something for everybody, but also generate a variety of concerns among different parts of the Democratic and Republican caucuses on Capitol Hill, and so a kind of compromise or package that attracts sufficient majorities to get through Congress,” Tama said. “I think it’s possible, but it’s challenging.” 

House members express hesitation on the timeline for major decisions as the end of the year quickly approaches. Representatives seem unresolved as to how the proposed package will impact the budget as members tack on requirements for approval. 

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, said the aid package debate could push back budget talks but he does “not know the answer to that.” 

Raskin also said “I don’t know,” about adding certain conditions to the foreign aid packages. He did not specify any conditions.  

“The people of Ukraine need help defending themselves against [Vladimir] Putin’s violent onslaught, Israel needs help in their fight against Hamas,” Raskin said. “There are huge humanitarian crises taking place in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip so we need to rush aid there, so I support every part of it.” 

Raskin, along with 25 members of Congress, signed a letter last week to President Biden urging “an immediate cessation of hostilities against targets with a civilian presence to facilitate the timely evacuation and protection of children and babies.”

Dima Amro

Dima Amro is a reporter for The Wash covering the Adams Morgan neighborhood. She is an investigative journalism graduate student at American University. Prior to that, she worked at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee.

Katherine Hapgood

I am a fellow at the Center for Public Integrity and a graduate student at American University studying investigative journalism and public affairs. This semester, I am covering the neighborhoods of Foggy Bottom and the West End. I primarily cover government access, accountability, and report on equity.

Mirika Rayaprolu

Before becoming a graduate journalism student at American University, I was a freelance reporter and a political researcher for Young People for Politics in Mumbai, India. Some of my published work includes reports on the Bombay dock explosion of 1944, a study on female radicalisations by ISIS in the U.K. and an analysis of online fan clubs of the Columbine High School shooters. My video production work includes Bombay Groove, a documentary on Mumbai’s underground hip-hop scene. My interests lie in covering reproductive freedom, immigration and workers’ rights. I am originally from Mumbai, moved to Dallas in 2022 and currently reside in Washington, D.C.

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