US House Speaker pro tempore Patrick McHenry in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 20 October 2023. EFE/EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Biden asks Congress for $105B for security needs including Israel, Ukraine

Washington, Oct 20 (EFE).- The president of the United States, Joe Biden, asked Congress on Friday to approve an urgent budget item of more than $105 billion, which includes $14.3 billion in aid to Israel and a new package of $61.4 billion for Ukraine, among other security needs such as the Mexican border and the Indo-Pacific.

As expected, the White House combined the aid to Israel, which both Democrats and Republicans are willing to support, and the package for Ukraine, which part of the Republican bench, the most radical wing, wants to end.

The request also includes $9.15 billion in humanitarian aid for “Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and others,” that does not specify how much would go to each.

And the package also includes 13.6 billion in various items to increase security on the border with Mexico, and another 2 billion to improve security in the Indo-Pacific region, among others.

The US government formalized the request in a letter from the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, to the acting speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Patrick McHenry.

In the letter, Young warns that “the world is watching and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities.”

Aid to Ukraine and Israel is mostly military

The aid to Ukraine is divided into $30 billion for military equipment from US stockpiles, $14.4 billion for intelligence and defense assistance, and $16.3 billion through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for economic and security assistance.

Additionally, $481 million is requested to help Ukrainians coming to the US and $149 million to help Ukraine in its ability to respond to a potential nuclear attack.

And for Israel’s defense, $10.6 billion would be for air and missile defense assistance and another $3.7 billion for the State Department, including support for embassies.

The border, another top priority

The White House included several items totaling $13.6 billion to bolster security on the border with Mexico and try to stop the flow of fentanyl.

These include funding for 1,300 additional Border Patrol agents, 375 additional immigration judges, and 1,600 asylum officers, as well as more than 100 state-of-the-art fentanyl detection machines and 1,000 additional law enforcement officers.

Congress, still paralyzed

The House of Representatives remains paralyzed because it has yet to elect a new speaker, but in a call with reporters, Young was adamant about sending the message that lawmakers must do their duty.

“Our job is to make it clear to Congress what the needs are and what happens if these critical items are not passed. We are doing our job, and we expect them to do theirs and do it quickly,” she said.

Improving US defense capabilities

During the call with reporters, Young underscored that the aid package calls for a $50 billion investment by the defense industry to ensure that the US military remains the “most ready, most capable and best-equipped” in the world.

The item includes, for example, $3.4 billion to strengthen the submarine industry, a key component of US defense.

Young defended these investments because they will “strengthen” the economy and bring with them the creation of more jobs. EFE