The Senate is currently facing a potential collapse of a $118 billion international aid package due to opposition from Republicans. Their main concern revolves around the border security provisions, which they argue are not stringent enough. Interestingly, some opponents of the funding bill are raising another familiar argument – the direct allocation of $60 billion to Ukraine.
Most of the funds allocated for Ukraine, however, will not be leaving the United States. Instead, the Pentagon will receive tens of billions of dollars to purchase new weaponry from American companies. These weapons will be used to replenish depleted inventories, assist in Ukrainian military operations, and facilitate new weapon contracts for Kyiv.
If the bill is passed, it would greatly benefit the defense industry, which both President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell have highlighted as a significant job creator. This bill aims to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, which has been facing delays for several months.
However, as soon as Senate negotiators released the latest version of the supplemental bill over the weekend, some longstanding critics of Ukraine aid were quick to misrepresent its contents.
Rand Paul, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, expressed his opposition to providing additional funding to Ukraine. He took to social media to voice his concerns about the lack of time to thoroughly assess the potential consequences of this deal if it becomes law.
In a recent post on Sunday, Paul expressed his concern over the current situation. He highlighted that a staggering $60 billion has been given to the corrupt regime in Ukraine, while our own country lacks proper border security. In his view, this ongoing issue needs to be addressed and stopped immediately.
Senator Mike Lee, a critic of Ukraine, highlighted an interesting comparison stating that the budget allocated to the U.S. Marine Corps in FY23 was $53.8 billion, whereas the proposed bill would provide Ukraine with over $60 billion.
In a statement released on Monday, Representative Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, expressed his concern about the aid bill, highlighting that Ukraine is receiving three times more funding to secure their border compared to the funding allocated for our own border security.
The bill, however, states something different. Out of the total amount of just over $60 billion allotted to assist Ukraine in defending against Russia’s invasion, a significant portion, specifically $48.4 billion, would be allocated to the Pentagon. This funding would largely be directed towards U.S. companies.
Senate negotiators have set aside nearly $20 billion to replenish U.S. military supplies and equipment that were depleted during the effort to arm Ukraine. An additional $13.8 billion has been earmarked for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which involves the Pentagon purchasing new weapons for the Ukrainian military directly from American defense contractors. Furthermore, lawmakers have allocated $14.8 billion for increased military presence in Europe, as well as for training and intelligence sharing with Ukraine.
In addition to the funds allocated for Ukraine, the broader bill also includes significant funding for U.S. arms manufacturing. A substantial amount of $4.4 billion will be utilized to replace weapons that were sent to Israel during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Furthermore, $1.9 billion will be allocated to replenish arms intended for Taiwan, aimed at deterring any potential invasion by China.
Lawmakers have allocated $3.3 billion to enhance the U.S. submarine industrial base, in order to fulfill the Navy’s requirements and uphold the commitments made under the AUKUS sub-manufacturing agreement, which was established by the Biden administration in collaboration with the UK and Australia.
Republicans are expected to block the bill in a test vote on Wednesday, opposing the border deal. Despite initially stating that border security measures should be a prerequisite for any new Ukraine funding, many Republicans are now opposed to providing further aid to Ukraine. This resistance, combined with the reluctance of House Republicans to approve new funding, has left the future of Ukraine aid uncertain.
Biden is making a strong case for his re-election, emphasizing his role in driving an economic revival and promising a surge in blue-collar manufacturing jobs. During his recent visits to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, Biden has been adamant that the implementation of new subsidies and tax breaks will ultimately benefit American workers.
In his efforts to promote the aid package, Biden delivered a compelling address from the Oval Office. He emphasized that a significant portion of the funds would be allocated towards bolstering domestic weapons manufacturing, thereby generating employment opportunities nationwide.
Biden’s team wasted no time in highlighting the potential economic advantages of another supplemental after the bipartisan deal was revealed, as well as its role in bolstering Ukraine’s defenses.
According to a senior administration official, the deal will not only bolster our own defense industrial base, but also provide support to American jobs nationwide. The aim is to enhance our capacity to manufacture weapons and equipment that can be sent to Ukraine, enabling them to effectively counter Russian aggression. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity while discussing the details of the agreement with reporters on Sunday.
The argument for buying products made in America has been a significant selling point for months when it comes to Ukraine aid. This message has been emphasized by Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and even McConnell. They highlight the fact that a substantial portion of the funds is spent within the United States.
In a speech on November 1, McConnell candidly acknowledged, “Let’s not beat around the bush. Apart from the funds we’ve allocated for U.S. military training and logistics support in Europe, the majority of America’s security assistance is being invested in domestic factories.”
According to McConnell, he has emphasized the importance of U.S. aid to Ukraine in multiple floor speeches. He stated that this aid has amounted to $24 billion, which has been used to replenish U.S. weapons sent to Kyiv. Additionally, McConnell highlighted that this aid has resulted in the expansion of defense industry production lines, creating more job opportunities.
According to McConnell, a significant amount of funds have been invested in Missouri, Alabama, and Wisconsin for the production of munitions and tactical vehicles. Missouri alone received $692 million, while Alabama and Wisconsin received almost a billion dollars and over a billion dollars, respectively.
According to Biden, the request is aimed at funding equipment that not only defends America but is also manufactured within the country. This includes Patriot batteries produced in Arizona and artillery shells constructed in 12 different states.
The admin has taken the initiative to distribute a map on Capitol Hill, illustrating the states that have received assistance from Ukraine aid.
During his testimony in October, Austin informed Senate appropriators that the allocated funds would be channeled through the defense industrial base, thereby generating employment opportunities across more than 30 states. The aim behind this initiative is to promote domestic prosperity while concurrently enhancing global security.
According to Austin, the money will be reinvested in America’s economy, leading to the creation and sustenance of jobs. He believes that this will also present new opportunities for Americans.
However, opponents of the bill, like Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), do not find this argument convincing. He opposes the bill, stating that it is essentially a Ukraine funding bill.
According to the speaker, the ongoing Ukraine war has resulted in the loss of over 200,000 lives and has left half a million people injured. Despite the devastating impact, there has been no significant progress on the front for over a year. Therefore, the speaker believes that it is crucial to shift our attention towards achieving a peace agreement in Ukraine.