President Joe Biden, seen here with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in May 2023, has urged Congress to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess. Credit - Susan Walsh—Getty Images
U.S. Senate leaders are struggling to reach an agreement on aid for Ukraine. On Wednesday, Republicans in the Senate voted to block an emergency spending bill that would have provided $110.5 billion to Ukraine, Israel and other measures relevant to security.
Republicans had been hoping to add immigration policy changes to the bill that would further secure the U.S.-Mexico border. However, Republicans and Democrats failed to come to an agreement after weeks of talks, leading the GOP to vote against the bill.
Biden accused Republicans of “playing chicken” with U.S. national security. “Petty partisan politics can’t get in the way of our responsibility as the leading nation in the world… if we walk away now, it will only embolden other aggressors,” he said on Wednesday.
He urged Congress to pass a funding bill before they recess for the holidays. “Republican Congressmen are willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership,” said Biden.
“If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there… if he keeps going and then he attacks a NATO ally, when we’ve committed as a NATO member that we defend every inch of NATO territory, then we’ll have something that we don’t seek, and that we don’t have today—American troops fighting Russian troops.”
In the meantime, Ukraine’s counter-offensive operation has thus far failed to reach its stated goals of retaking all Ukrainian territory and breaching Russian front lines.
On Wednesday, the U.S. announced that it would send a smaller $175 million package of military aid to Ukraine that would include High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), anti-armor systems and high-speed anti-radiation missiles. Nevertheless, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that without approval from Congress, “this will be one of the last security assistance packages we can provide to Ukraine.”
The U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron traveled to the U.S. this week, meeting with Blinken in Washington to discuss international matters. In an interview with CNN’s This Morning he warned that “the worst thing in the world would be to allow Putin a win in Ukraine.” Urging Congress to reach an agreement on the aid, he said: “The U.S. is the lynchpin of the coalition [supporting Ukraine].”
Cameron also challenged the idea that Ukraine had not made significant enough progress in regard to its counteroffensive. “The Ukrainian campaign is in many ways far more successful than people give them credit for,” he stated, claiming that Ukraine has “taken back half the land that Russia stole from them” and has fought attacks “thanks to American equipment.”
As for what happens next, the Senate's Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said on Thursday: "Well, we are left with only two paths forward to break the logjam: either Republicans can take us up on an amendment offer or we can restart negotiations.”
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