Biden signs $95 billion aid package critical for Ukraine's defense, global humanitarian needs

April 24, 2024 at 4:15 p.m.
A person walks past the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Jan. 17, 2024. (OSV News photo/Leah Millis, Reuters)
A person walks past the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Jan. 17, 2024. (OSV News photo/Leah Millis, Reuters) (Leah Millis)

By KATIE SCANLON
Osv News

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on April 24 said the U.S. will begin sending military aid to Ukraine within "the next few hours" after he signed legislation sent to him by Congress approving $95 billion in foreign aid to provide weapons and support to key U.S. allies including Ukraine and Israel – as well as billions in humanitarian aid – after a monthslong process.

"It was a difficult path (to my desk) and should have been easier and it should have gotten there sooner," Biden said in remarks at the White House. The legislation was delayed due to objections from some hard-right House GOP lawmakers; however, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., reached a bipartisan deal to pass the measure, reviving an effort many thought dead in the House.

The provision of aid comes as Ukraine's ammunition-starved forces have buckled under Russia's onslaught, and as mounting evidence reveals Ukraine's Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians not part of the Russian Orthodox Church have been subjected to violent persecution and repression under Russian occupation.

"For all of us who follow closely and are personally affected by the Russian violence (in Ukraine), there is great solace in the solidarity of Americans," Metropolitan Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia told OSV News. He said the "supermajority" of congressional support for aiding Ukraine was "encouraging," but the win had been deeply shadowed by the loss of Ukrainian lives during the long battle for the bill to clear the House.

"Our greatest hope is that this war may be finished and that there may be a just peace," he said.

"This package is an investment not only in Ukrainian security, but in European security and our own security," Biden said. "We're sending Ukraine equipment from our own stockpiles, then replacing those stockpiles with new products made by American companies here in America."

Biden said the aid directly serves U.S. national interests by reducing the risk of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering an attack upon a NATO ally, which would draw the U.S. into direct conflict.

"We bow to no one to no one, certainly not Vladimir Putin," Biden said.

Biden also stressed the legislation shows U.S. commitment to Israel's security is "ironclad," while also increasing civilian aid for the Gaza Strip.

Bill O'Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, the international aid agency of the Catholic Church in the U.S., highlighted in a statement the legislation's more than $9 billion in global humanitarian aid.

"We commend Congressional action to include more than $9 billion in global humanitarian aid in the recently passed supplemental bill," O'Keefe said. "The inclusion of these funds sends a clear message: the people of the United States are deeply concerned about the suffering of our sisters and brothers around the world."  

O'Keefe praised the bipartisan efforts to make sure humanitarian aid was included, and said that CRS remains "committed to working with Congress and the administration to foster a more just and peaceful world."

"As people of faith, this aid exemplifies the importance of moral leadership and solidarity in times of global strife," he said. "Global humanitarian aid will not only help respond to needs resulting from the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, but also provide life-saving resources and hope to families and communities from Sudan to Haiti and from Venezuela to Bangladesh."

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the House's $95 billion foreign aid bill the evening of April 23, just a few days after the GOP-led House passed the package despite objections from its hard-right flank, who signaled they would seek to oust Johnson as speaker over the deal.

A large bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans in both chambers voted in favor of the package despite objections from some Democrats about providing Israel further aid amid concerns about heavy civilian casualties in Gaza, and objections from some Republicans to providing aid to Ukraine as it resists Russia's unprovoked invasion.

In comments to reporters after the Senate passed the measure, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a staunch advocate of passing the aid, was critical of those who he said stalled the aid, including pundits who stirred up opposition.

"The demonization of Ukraine began by Tucker Carlson, who in my opinion ended up where he should have been all along, which is interviewing Vladimir Putin," McConnell told reporters. "And so he had an enormous audience, which convinced a lot of rank-and-file Republicans that maybe this was a mistake."

"And then our nominee for president didn't seem to want us to do anything at all," McConnell said in reference to former President Donald Trump. "That took months to work our way through it."

In comments on the Senate floor April 23, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "Tonight, after more than six months of hard work and many twists and turns on the road, America sends a message to the entire world: we will not turn our back on you."

"Tonight we tell our allies: we stand with you," he added. "We tell our adversaries: don't mess with us. We tell the world: the United States will do everything to safeguard democracy and our way of life."

Three GOP senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama – did not vote on the measure. Paul in particular was a vocal critic of providing Ukraine aid, and sought to stall the process of the Senate approving the measure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who voted against the measure, argued the U.S. should halt aid to Israel due to civilian casualties in Gaza.

"I voted no tonight on the foreign aid package for one simple reason: U.S. taxpayers should not be providing billions more to the extremist Netanyahu government to continue its devastating war against the Palestinian people," he said in a statement. "34,000 Palestinians have already been killed and 77,000 have been wounded – 70% of whom are women and children. The housing in Gaza is destroyed; the infrastructure in Gaza is destroyed; the health care system in Gaza is destroyed; the educational system in Gaza is destroyed. Enough is enough. No more money for Netanyahu's war machine."

Also included in the legislation signed by Biden was a provision requiring TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok's U.S. operations within a year or have the platform banned in the U.S. Lawmakers expressed concerns the app poses an intelligence risk to the U.S. given its ties to China's government, which Chinese officials have denied.

The social media app has 1 billion users globally, among whom are as many as 170 million U.S. users. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in TikTok video April 24 that the social media company will challenge the law in court.

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @kgscanlon. Gina Christian, multimedia reporter for OSV News, also contributed to this report. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @GinaJesseReina.

A militant of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic is seen at frontline positions located on the troops' contact line with Ukrainian forces near the Ukrainian village of Leninsko Dec. 18, 2020. OSV News photo/Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters

 


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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on April 24 said the U.S. will begin sending military aid to Ukraine within "the next few hours" after he signed legislation sent to him by Congress approving $95 billion in foreign aid to provide weapons and support to key U.S. allies including Ukraine and Israel – as well as billions in humanitarian aid – after a monthslong process.

"It was a difficult path (to my desk) and should have been easier and it should have gotten there sooner," Biden said in remarks at the White House. The legislation was delayed due to objections from some hard-right House GOP lawmakers; however, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., reached a bipartisan deal to pass the measure, reviving an effort many thought dead in the House.

The provision of aid comes as Ukraine's ammunition-starved forces have buckled under Russia's onslaught, and as mounting evidence reveals Ukraine's Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians not part of the Russian Orthodox Church have been subjected to violent persecution and repression under Russian occupation.

"For all of us who follow closely and are personally affected by the Russian violence (in Ukraine), there is great solace in the solidarity of Americans," Metropolitan Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia told OSV News. He said the "supermajority" of congressional support for aiding Ukraine was "encouraging," but the win had been deeply shadowed by the loss of Ukrainian lives during the long battle for the bill to clear the House.

"Our greatest hope is that this war may be finished and that there may be a just peace," he said.

"This package is an investment not only in Ukrainian security, but in European security and our own security," Biden said. "We're sending Ukraine equipment from our own stockpiles, then replacing those stockpiles with new products made by American companies here in America."

Biden said the aid directly serves U.S. national interests by reducing the risk of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering an attack upon a NATO ally, which would draw the U.S. into direct conflict.

"We bow to no one to no one, certainly not Vladimir Putin," Biden said.

Biden also stressed the legislation shows U.S. commitment to Israel's security is "ironclad," while also increasing civilian aid for the Gaza Strip.

Bill O'Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, the international aid agency of the Catholic Church in the U.S., highlighted in a statement the legislation's more than $9 billion in global humanitarian aid.

"We commend Congressional action to include more than $9 billion in global humanitarian aid in the recently passed supplemental bill," O'Keefe said. "The inclusion of these funds sends a clear message: the people of the United States are deeply concerned about the suffering of our sisters and brothers around the world."  

O'Keefe praised the bipartisan efforts to make sure humanitarian aid was included, and said that CRS remains "committed to working with Congress and the administration to foster a more just and peaceful world."

"As people of faith, this aid exemplifies the importance of moral leadership and solidarity in times of global strife," he said. "Global humanitarian aid will not only help respond to needs resulting from the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, but also provide life-saving resources and hope to families and communities from Sudan to Haiti and from Venezuela to Bangladesh."

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the House's $95 billion foreign aid bill the evening of April 23, just a few days after the GOP-led House passed the package despite objections from its hard-right flank, who signaled they would seek to oust Johnson as speaker over the deal.

A large bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans in both chambers voted in favor of the package despite objections from some Democrats about providing Israel further aid amid concerns about heavy civilian casualties in Gaza, and objections from some Republicans to providing aid to Ukraine as it resists Russia's unprovoked invasion.

In comments to reporters after the Senate passed the measure, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a staunch advocate of passing the aid, was critical of those who he said stalled the aid, including pundits who stirred up opposition.

"The demonization of Ukraine began by Tucker Carlson, who in my opinion ended up where he should have been all along, which is interviewing Vladimir Putin," McConnell told reporters. "And so he had an enormous audience, which convinced a lot of rank-and-file Republicans that maybe this was a mistake."

"And then our nominee for president didn't seem to want us to do anything at all," McConnell said in reference to former President Donald Trump. "That took months to work our way through it."

In comments on the Senate floor April 23, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "Tonight, after more than six months of hard work and many twists and turns on the road, America sends a message to the entire world: we will not turn our back on you."

"Tonight we tell our allies: we stand with you," he added. "We tell our adversaries: don't mess with us. We tell the world: the United States will do everything to safeguard democracy and our way of life."

Three GOP senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama – did not vote on the measure. Paul in particular was a vocal critic of providing Ukraine aid, and sought to stall the process of the Senate approving the measure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who voted against the measure, argued the U.S. should halt aid to Israel due to civilian casualties in Gaza.

"I voted no tonight on the foreign aid package for one simple reason: U.S. taxpayers should not be providing billions more to the extremist Netanyahu government to continue its devastating war against the Palestinian people," he said in a statement. "34,000 Palestinians have already been killed and 77,000 have been wounded – 70% of whom are women and children. The housing in Gaza is destroyed; the infrastructure in Gaza is destroyed; the health care system in Gaza is destroyed; the educational system in Gaza is destroyed. Enough is enough. No more money for Netanyahu's war machine."

Also included in the legislation signed by Biden was a provision requiring TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok's U.S. operations within a year or have the platform banned in the U.S. Lawmakers expressed concerns the app poses an intelligence risk to the U.S. given its ties to China's government, which Chinese officials have denied.

The social media app has 1 billion users globally, among whom are as many as 170 million U.S. users. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in TikTok video April 24 that the social media company will challenge the law in court.

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @kgscanlon. Gina Christian, multimedia reporter for OSV News, also contributed to this report. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @GinaJesseReina.

A militant of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic is seen at frontline positions located on the troops' contact line with Ukrainian forces near the Ukrainian village of Leninsko Dec. 18, 2020. OSV News photo/Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters

 

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