Biden signs bill approving additional military aid for Ukraine and Israel

Foreign aid package includes $95 billion in assistance, with $60 billion for Kyiv

President Joe Biden speaks before signing a $95 billion foreign military aid package in Washington on Wednesday. AP
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President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law a $95 billion foreign aid package that includes funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, ending months of intense partisan battles.

Mr Biden said the bill is an investment in the security interests of the US and its allies, and that it will ensure the nation's leadership in the world.

“It was a difficult path; it should have been easier and it should have gotten there sooner,” Mr Biden said in remarks at the White House.

“[But] we rose to the moment, we came together and we got it done.”

The funding measure includes about $60 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, and $8 billion for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific security.

It also features a provision that would potentially ban the social media platform TikTok from the US, or force its Chinese parent company to sell it.

Why is the US concerned about TikTok? – video

Why is the US concerned about TikTok?

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: In this photo illustration, a TikTok logo is displayed on an iPhone on February 28, 2023 in London, England. This week, the US government and European Union's parliament have announced bans on installing the popular social media app on staff devices. (Photo by Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the aid package with broad bipartisan support in a 79-18 vote.

Mr Biden, who is running for re-election in November, requested the Ukraine funding in October.

The Senate passed a similar foreign aid package in February but Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson held the bill up for months, under pressure from his own party.

A group of Republican politicians allied to presidential nominee Donald Trump say they oppose Washington's continued support for the war in Ukraine, two years after Russia's invasion.

But Iran's strike on Israel this month created a new urgency and forced the Republican Speaker to bring the bill to a vote.

The package includes about $4 billion towards replenishing Israel’s missile defence systems.

“With this aid, the United States can help replenish Israel's air defence so Iran can never carry out the destruction it intended with its attack 10 days ago,” Mr Biden said.

A group of progressive Democrats had opposed the aid package for Israel, with 37 politicians voting against it.

The new funding places no conditions on how the money can be used, amid concerns Israel could be committing human rights violations in its military operation in Gaza.

More than 34,200 Palestinians have been killed, according to health authorities in Gaza, and famine is looming.

Israel launched its offensive on October 7, after an attack by Hamas killed about 1,200, according to Israeli authorities.

The Biden administration has for months been urging Israel to do more to facilitate the entry of much-needed aid into Gaza and has pledged more than $9 billion of the bill to go towards humanitarian assistance there.

Mr Biden said Israel must ensure that the aid reaches Gaza quickly.

“We're going to immediately secure that aid and surge it, surge it, including food, medical supplies, clean water,” Mr Biden said.

“And Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay.”

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his troops are in urgent need of additional arms, especially long-range weapons to support Kyiv's frontline forces.

On Sunday, Mr Zelenskyy said the US aid would mean Ukraine now has “a chance of victory”.

The bill the President signed today, and the significant and immediate military aid package he approved one minute later, will send Ukraine the supplies that it needs to make a significant difference as they continue to fight for their sovereignty.

The US President said an initial transfer of military assistance to Ukraine would begin in a matter of hours.

“I'm making sure the shipments start right away,” Mr Biden said. “The next few hours – literally in a few hours.”

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Updated: April 25, 2024, 8:24 AM