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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Ukraine: Disputes Regarding IRS and Border Security Hinder Emergency Assistance to Israel.

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Ukraine In a race against time, Congress endeavors to pass a foreign aid package before year-end to provide crucial support to key U.S. allies, notably Israel and Ukraine. However, with only three weeks left on the legislative calendar, bipartisan negotiations face considerable challenges.

Stalled Progress

The urgency follows Hamas’ October terrorist attack on Israel and enduring bipartisan support for Ukraine. Despite these motivations, President Joe Biden’s emergency aid request encounters roadblocks in both the House and Senate.

Contentious Issues

Capitol Hill grapples with disputes over Israel’s conflict in Gaza, funding sources, and immigration reform. Delicate negotiations persist as there is bipartisan support for elements of Biden’s request, but details remain a point of contention.

Israel’s Standstill

A standalone Israel-only aid bill faces a standstill, primarily due to House Republicans proposing an offset involving cuts to the Internal Revenue Service budget, an idea rejected by Democrats.

Ukraine’s Diminishing Support

Simultaneously, ongoing U.S. aid to Ukraine faces diminishing Republican support, with lawmakers tying it to the contentious issue of immigration reform.

Leadership Perspectives

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasizes the importance of agreement, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell advocates for the Biden package, hoping for a national security bill to reach Biden’s desk next month.

Uncertain Outcome

Despite assurances from key committee chairs, the final package’s form is unpredictable. House Republicans insist on an offset for military aid to Israel, while Democrats’ internal disagreements involve conditioning aid to Israel based on progressive demands.

Geopolitical Developments

As Israel and Hamas observe a truce, Ukraine aid faces a holding pattern, with unconditional support dwindling among Congressional Republicans. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Kyiv coincides with the Biden administration announcing $100 million in military assistance, sourced from a previous spending bill.

Pentagon’s Dilemma

The Pentagon faces decisions on arming Ukraine or prioritizing U.S. forces’ readiness, highlighting the urgency of passing the pending funding request.

Three GOP senators propose changes to border policy in exchange for supporting Biden’s Ukraine funding, presenting an additional hurdle that must be overcome for a comprehensive deal.

Conclusion

In the face of these challenges, the fate of the foreign aid package remains uncertain as Congress navigates complex negotiations and pressing geopolitical concerns.

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