A Mess in Congress
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Republicans’ failure to select a new Speaker of the House risks complicating White House efforts to send billions of dollars in extra US military aid to Israel and Ukraine, as lawmakers brace for a third week of chaos on Capitol Hill, notes ‘The Financial Times’.
Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said at the weekend that the US president had “made clear” he would ask lawmakers to endorse a new package of funding for Ukraine and Israel.
Sullivan told CBS’s Face the Nation programme on Sunday to “expect intensive engagement with Congress this very week, as we work on such a package and seek to secure bipartisan support”. The value of the proposed package would be “significantly higher” than $2bn, he said.
But Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledge that chronic dysfunction and sharp divisions on Capitol Hill stand in the way of that plan, as the lower chamber of Congress has been without a Speaker for nearly two weeks.
At the same time, many House Republicans have rejected calls for further aid to Kyiv, raising the question of whether they will agree to more money for Ukraine when it is tied to additional funds for Israel.
The White House has reportedly floated providing additional funding for Taiwan and securing the US-Mexico frontier to sweeten the deal for conservative House Republicans who have called on Biden to take a tougher stance on China and border security.
Yet no package can be considered until the House of Representatives elects a new leader. By late on Sunday lawmakers looked no closer to finding a solution to the impasse.
Israel already receives $3.8bn a year in funding from the US, under a 10-year deal that lasts through 2028. But the Pentagon expects the country will need support behind what is already in that package, including additional interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defence system.
Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv after meeting Israeli officials on Sunday, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, made clear he would not wait on the House to press ahead with a sweeping security package “in the next few weeks”. Any bill would need to be passed by both chambers of Congress before being signed into law by Biden.
“We are not waiting for the House, plain and simple. That would be foolish,” Schumer said.
“But we believe that if we put together a strong package, and pass it with an overwhelming, strong, bipartisan majority, it will put pressure on the House, one way or another, to act.”
Indeed. “One war or another” makes no big difference for the United States! Historically confirmed many times…
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