White House makes Ukraine aid plea

Funding for Ukraine has been at the centre of discussions in U.S. Congress this week, amid concerns that aid could run out in 2024.
Funding for Ukraine

The White House has issued an urgent call for Congress in the U.S. to agree to more funding for Ukraine.

It says without action, resources for Ukraine will run out “by the end of the year”.

Funding has been held up by Republican Party members, who hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives.

The U.S. political system

The U.S. Government is split into three branches. The Senate and House of Representatives form the legislative branch (Congress). The President, Vice President and various government departments form the executive branch (The White House). The Federal and Supreme courts make up the judicial branch.

Unlike Australia’s Prime Minister, the U.S. President doesn’t sit in the House. The President has the power to sign bills into law or to veto (block) them, but Congress can override a veto with a two-thirds vote from both houses.

Funding for Ukraine

Congress has authorised $US111 billion ($AU169 billion) in funding for Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

In October, President Joe Biden called on Congress to support a package worth $US106 billion ($AU161 billion) to provide extra aid to Ukraine. The White House said measures needed to pass this year to ensure continued support can be sent to Ukraine.

The package would also provide funding for Israel and the AUKUS defence deal with Australia.

Opposition to Ukraine funding

Some Republicans want to block further Ukraine aid, arguing funds should go towards protecting U.S. borders instead.

The issue became a key factor in the ousting of Kevin McCarthy as U.S. House Speaker in October. A push against McCarthy was led by far-right Republicans, and supported by Democrats.

McCarthy was replaced by Mike Johnson, an ally of Donald Trump who has opposed aid for Ukraine.

White House plea

The White House sent a letter to Congressional leaders on Monday (local time). It said the proposed package would support U.S. national security interests, and prevent further conflicts with global implications.

It warned Congress that cutting off U.S. support “will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories”.

What’s next?

The aid package has been supported by Democrats, who (unlike in the House of Reps) hold power in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reiterated his support for the package on Monday, saying that “all our adversaries” were watching Congress’ actions.

White House officials briefed Senators on the importance of the proposal during a meeting on Tuesday, ahead of a vote in the Senate on Wednesday (local time).

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