Biden hails foreign aid bill’s passage, pledges to get arms shipped within ‘hours’

April 24, 2024

On Wednesday, April 24, President Joe Biden praised the passage of the long-awaited $95 billion aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan—and pledged that the money would quickly move to its intended destinations, reports Politico.

Speaking hours after the conclusion of months of a painstaking congressional standoff, the president was both celebratory and stern. He argued that the bill should have been done sooner and warned about what could have happened had it not been passed at all.

He also said that the fresh aid reaffirmed America’s support of Ukrainehighlighting the threats facing Kyiv. The United States, he added, will begin sending the first shipment of equipment, including air defense munitions, artillery, rocket systems and armored vehicles, in “a few hours.”

Biden also said the bill included “vital” support for Israel, noting that its passage comes less than two weeks after Iran launched an unsuccessful attack on the country. But he added that the bill will also increase humanitarian assistance to the “innocent people of Gaza,” warning that Israel must ensure the support reaches Palestinians without delay.

The remarks were a watershed moment for Biden—one not many in Washington expected just months ago. The national security supplement helps fill out his foreign policy agenda and its passage reaffirms his ability to see difficult legislation through a divided Congress.

“It’s a good day for America. It’s a good day for Europe. It’s a good day for world peace,” Biden said, speaking from the State Dining Room.

“It’s going to make America safer. It’s going to make the world safer. And it continues America’s leadership in the world,” he continued. “When our allies are stronger—and I want to make this point again and again—when our allies are stronger, we are stronger.”

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the package on Tuesday night after months of partisan disputes and questions about whether the United States would continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s assault. In addition to the foreign aid elements, the legislation also includes a provision requiring that the Chinese-government-tied company that owns the social media app TikTok either sell it or be banned from operating in the United States.

The White House first sent its foreign aid supplemental to the Hill more than six months ago. It spent months trying to secure the aid, ultimately agreeing to tough border policy changes as an incentive to get Republican votes. That compromise faltered after former President Donald Trump urged GOP lawmakers to vote against it. But on Wednesday, Biden pledged to push for it again.

“There’s one thing this bill does not do: border security,” Biden said. “Just this year, I proposed and negotiated and agreed to the strongest border security bill this country has ever, ever, ever seen. It was bipartisan. It should have been included in this bill. And I’m determined to get it done for the American people. And we’ll come back to that another moment, another time.”

The president thanked House Speaker Mike Johnson, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—noting that Congress has been able to come together on “critical issues” over the last three years.

Tuesday’s vote was a victory for Democrats and defense-minded Republicans, although a faction of the party remains enraged with party leadership for moving forward with the bill.

While Ukraine’s leadership praised passage of the bill, the country is still recovering from months of setbacks. Biden again argued on Wednesday that the fight in Ukraine extends well beyond Kyiv. If Russian President Vladimir Putin moves beyond Ukraine, the next attack could be against a NATO ally, he warned.

“We should take a little bit of a step back and realize what a critical moment this was, for the United States and for NATO,” Biden said. “This is an historical moment.”

Research contact: @politico