US President Joe Biden called on the Senate to “immediately” pass the supplemental funding bill that includes more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, additional aid to Israel, and “reforms” to border security and immigration.
Arriving almost two hours behind schedule, Biden pointed to his Ukraine lapel pin and necktie in the Ukrainian flag colors to argue that Kiev is “in dire straits right now” without urgent funding.
“The clock is ticking,” he said, arguing that Russia does not intend to stop with Ukraine and “the cost to America and our partners and allies will rise” unless more money, weapons and ammunition are sent right away.
“Supporting this bill is standing up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, opposing this bill is playing into his hands,” Biden said. “History is watching. Failure to support Ukraine will never be forgotten!”
The $116 billion supplemental “national security” funding bill was proposed by the White House in October and bundled aid to Ukraine and Israel with “border security.” Republicans, who have a razor-thin majority in the House and enough votes to block the bill in the Senate, have proposed separating the three issues. Biden and his Democrats have refused, however.
“We need it all,” Biden told reporters.
He blamed “MAGA Republicans” and former President Donald Trump for not wanting to “secure” the border and hoping to use it as an election issue in November. He urged the opposition party to “show some spine and do what they know to be right,” and not be intimidated by Trump.
Millions of illegal immigrants have shown up at the US border with Mexico since Biden became president, claiming asylum and being released into the country because the Democrat had rescinded Trump’s immigration policies by executive order.
Biden called the proposed bipartisan reforms “most fair [and] humane” and intended to “finally” fix the system he described as “broken” by hiring more Border Patrol agents, asylum officers and immigration judges – while expediting asylum claims and issuance of work permits.
Critics of the proposal have called it a de facto amnesty for millions who entered the US illegally and noted that Biden has all the necessary authorities and tools to close the border now, should he actually wish to do so.
The Senate intends to call a vote on the bill as early as Wednesday. It is scheduled to go into recess on Saturday and not reconvene till February 26. The House leadership has said it would be “dead on arrival” if it passes, however.